Dean resigns in solidarity with priest sacked for altering words in liturgy

Independent Catholics News reports that senior priest Fr. Jim Burster has resigned his position as Dean of the North Central Deanery in the diocese of Belleville to protest the departure of Fr. Rowe. Bishop Braxton accepted Fr. Rowe’s resignation when he declined the bishops’ demand to use the exact words in the missal. Story here.

 

61 comments

  1. Weird young members of the temple police are pouncing on priests who alter the introduction to the Lord’s Prayer, for example. But are there not principles that override such literalism at stake here. It is a very widespread custom of priests to introduce the Lord’s Prayer in their own words. Does custom not carry authority in the interpretation of norms? And what about the overriding principle, salus animarum suprema lex?

    1. Thank heavens the laity are able to speak out. So we have the “temple” police: on one side, and the “Spirit of Vatican II” police on the other. (In my experience, it’s the “temple” folks who have actually read the documents of Vatican II.)
      No doubt there are priests out there taking flak from the “Spirit of Vatican II” police for faithfully implementing the new GIRM.

      1. “Faithfully implementing” means fretting neurotically if a priest varies the words of the intro to the Pater Noster, for example. This shows a totally uncatholic and unevangelical understanding of the idea of Norms, and it ignore the role of custom and common practice in the interpretation of legal norms, as well as the supreme principle of canon law: salus animarum suprema lex. In short, it is the pharisaic mentality that caused so much hassle for Jesus during his earthly life and for Paul as he founded churches of freedom and love.

      2. My point is that just as you classify folks as “temple” police, the “Spirit of Vatican II” police are equally pharisaic in their “fretting neurotically” over a priest who faithfully implements the GIRM, crying “Foul!” if he fails to use gender-neutral language or if he dares to weave Church teaching into his homilies. In short, these priests, who are faithfully practicing salus animarum suprema lex are being hassled by the “Spirit of Vatican II” zealots, much like Christ and Paul, as he founded churches of Truth.

    2. I have the impression that the old translation of the Missal (or is it in the Latin Missale also?) allowed the Priest to use similar words to introduce the Pater Noster; it even gave alternatives. The new edition of the Missal dropped the alternatives (but I’m not sure if permission to use similar words were retained somewhere in the GIRM).

      Precisely because we have brothers and sisters who are distressed by excursions from the approved texts, Priests have the duty to keep to the texts – for the salvation of these brethren.

      1. And because we have brothers and sisters who are distressed by the approved texts, Priests have the duty to vary from the texts – for the salvation of these brethren.

        An impossible situation!

      2. We have brothers and sisters who are distressed:
        – because of the Church’s stand on divorce, birth control, and adultery;
        – because the architecture of their parish church is either too simple or too ornate;
        – because the music is either too pop/folk/banal or too solemn/reverent/old;
        – because of the way people dress, either too formally or too casually;
        – because someone kneels/doesn’t kneel to receive
        – because someone holds hands/doesn’t hold hands at the Lord’s Prayer

        The list goes on. Some of these things are important, even salvific; some are preferences.

        IMO. the distressing trend is parishioners moving the focus of the Mass toward “me” and away from Christ.

  2. Believe me I am certainly not a fan of the abomination known as the Vox Clara 2010 product.

    That being said, from my knowledge of the situation Fr. Rowe was not making small corrections in the written text but rather making up new prayers out of whole cloth extemporaneously. In essence he was imposing an individualist sentimentalist piety on the celebration of the Eucharist.

    Also, resigning as dean really is a meaningless gesture. In my diocese they practically have to force people to serve as dean since it mainly consists of pushing a lot of paper from one side of the desk to the other and running a meeting about six times each year.

    I am sympathetic to Rowe, in fact I’ve been using the EP’s from the 1998 edition since that was last available translation approved by the English-speaking bishops. I imagine I am taking a bit of a risk in doing so, but so far no calls from mission control.

    1. More importantly, have you (and every other person reading this) told “mission control” what an “abomination” the Vox Clara 2010 product is?

      Unless the bishops hear from us, nothing will ever change.

      1. “Unless the bishops hear from us, nothing will ever change.”

        This is admirable optimism, as it implies that if they do, then something WILL change.

      2. What they need to hear from us to make change happen is, “We will shut off the money spigot until something changes.” Nothing else will work.

      3. Chris, it is eminently clear to me that the bishops do not care to hear from us, and speaking ones mind will have no other effect but truncating one’s career.

      4. Fr. Blue,
        I know there were priests who felt that way who served under Mahoney in CA, Weakland in WI, and Tobin on OH. They knew that if they spoke up for what the Church teaches, their words would fall on deaf ears.

      5. Good suggestion. I will make it a point to tell my Archbishop and Priests how I love the new translation.

        I’m discovering the riches of the prefaces in Ordinary Time, and the ideas actually stay with me and resurface when I pray the Divine Office and devotions. This was something that didn’t happen with the old texts.

      6. I’m discovering the riches of the prefaces in Ordinary Time, and the ideas actually stay with me and resurface when I pray the Divine Office and devotions. This was something that didn’t happen with the old texts.

        Why is why the church should have two ordinary English liturgies: A traditional English liturgy (i.e. the direct translation that they’ve been using since Advent), AND a modern English liturgy either based on the 1973 or 1998 translations. That way, people could attend the liturgy the provides them with the most spiritual fulfillment.

    2. In essence he was imposing an individualist sentimentalist piety on the celebration of the Eucharist.

      Maybe the people of his parish prefer his individualist sentimentalist piety. I have no problem with allowing priests to offer Mass within guidelines. My problem is with the fact that parishes have no say in setting those guideline or in choosing their pastor. The situation is even worse in musical chair dioceses where pastors are limited to a five or seven year term. Each new pastor is free to impose his ideas of how the church should look, what Mass times should be, what music is to be used, etc. I’ve seen even the best priests I know fall into the temptation of imposing from above.

      1. And the dynamic at work here is that lone ranger pastors repulse certain parishioners, who then move to another parish, and attract others from elsewhere, so that the pastors preferences are reinforced even if they were not strongly desired by the parish as it was comprised before the pastor’s arrival. Thus you get pastors who will attest to parish support, because we’re only looking at a partial picture of the pastor’s own making.

      2. But, in essence, isn’t the real problem that priests have the ability to personalize their masses to their particular tastes? When the same Mass can be celebrated in hundreds of different “styles” and there is nothing off limits in terms of music, etc., then we will have these problems. If there was only one way to celebrate mass and only one approved “style” of music, then Mass would be saved from the particular whims of individual priests. After all, you can’t open up a schmorgesborg of styles to choose from…all of which have been “accepted” in some form or fashion, and expect a new priest to accept and feel comfortable with a highly-individualized style particluar to the given parish. But if every parish had the same “style,” it wouldn’t change from one priest to the next, because there would be nothing else to choose from.

      3. Apropos that last point: the Missal contains many many licit options. My advice to celebrants who want to lone ranger beyond those – come back to me when you’ve truly exhausted your options. And then I will point you to your congregation, and tell you first to seek its consent (and not just the pastoral council or liturgical commission), since it will have to clean up after you leave. You only have delegated authority, and don’t forget it.

  3. Agree with the statement about “deans” – what is more interesting, if true, is that Braxton made these decision without consulting with his own dean? Thus, continuing his pattern that has caused such unrest among his own priests.

    Now this is happening while Braxton is in Rome. Given the recent abuse conference in Rome and the very significant and strong statements about holding bishops accountable and using canon law to do so, will there be a personal visit with Braxton about his historical and current behaviors with abuse victims?

    1. Bill, I have a pretty good idea about the situation in Belleville. There is a group of a dozen or so extremely liberal priests that were pretty much allowed to do anything they wanted for many years. There was a succession of hands-off bishops there and quite of bit of housecleaning needed to be done.

      Not that I would agree with everything that has been done, or how it has been done, but the predecessor left problems for the current ordinary.

      And Bill, I really do not think a decision of this matter is the kind of matter that an ordinary would discuss with a dean. Your point goes to the heart of the problem with the presbyterate in Belleville; a dozen or so priests do not believe the bishop has the right to act as a bishop without the consent of the presbyterate.

      So particulary in this case with the dean in question being one of the dozen in question, why would the bishop consult with him knowing what it was that needed to be done anyway? The dean has a very exaggerated opinion of himself in this regard.

  4. Thus you get pastors who will attest to parish support, because we’re only looking at a partial picture of the pastor’s own making

    This is the current situation in which very few parishioners have any say at all in selecting a pastor. Of course, having the parish hire the pastor will bring in new problems, but all in all it seems to be working for our Separated Brethern!

    1. When you say “having the parish hire the pastor” you’re really taking about the pastoral committee or a hiring committee; this still isn’t having the parish hire the pastor, but is hiring by those in power. Will be assured that all views held by the parishioners will be considered in the hiring process?

      1. Parish life can be a real balancing act. Are “those in power” the ones with money? If a group of volunteers puts in hours visiting the home bound, setting up luncheons, teaching religious ed, gathering donations for a food pantry, etc, are members of that group “those in power”?

        What we have now is a system of priests assigned by bishops chosen by Rome. Typically those bishops are outsiders, dependent on a chancery staff for information and recommendations. Surely we can come up with a better method than what we now have.

      2. That is the great question.

        Currently, parochial pastoral councils and finance councils suffer because they tend over time to reinforce the real power, the pastor. New pastor comes in: eventually, people who can’t work with him cycle off the councils and no longer volunteer to be nominated, and those who like him get onto the councils. One traditional approach to mitigate that dynamic is to bring back a certain degree of randomness into the equation. But that’s a topic for another day.

      3. The problem with pastoral councils is that the people understand they have no influence. Very few people are interested in being on pastoral council. When the call goes out for people, it is difficult to get anyone to volunteer. Usually the council is filled by people who want to learn more about the parish, i.e. to find a ministry where their talents might fit in.

        When I volunteered for pastoral council, there were four candidates for four positions. The council “discerned” that the Holy Spirit could count and we all became members. Actually I was interested in being on council because our parish results on Vibrant Parish Life Survey were almost identical to the diocesan results. So for four years I became a “participant observer” and put myself in the shoes of the average Vibrant Parish Life respondent who values the liturgy at the top of the list but who puts it halfway down the list in being well done, etc. and constantly asked myself what is going on in the parish from that perspective. Good training for commenting on this blog.

        Most pastoral council members see themselves as being there to support the staff. Most of their time is spent trying to understand the parish to help them do this. But this is not any different from board members of mental health agencies who also see themselves as supporting staff even though they have the legal authority to hire and fire the CEO. Both ignore the real function of boards, whether as trustees or advisers, which is to listen to the community which is being or could potentially be served and help make the parish or agency more relevant to those needs.

        A strong CEO that is internally focused the means of getting things done can work well with a strong board that is externally focused on identifying what needs to be done and keeps out of means..

  5. Siobhan Maguire

    Brigid Rauch :

    My sister-in-law, a member of the UCC, would be very amused to hear that the model her church labors under “works.”

    Thus you get pastors who will attest to parish support, because we’re only looking at a partial picture of the pastor’s own making

    This is the current situation in which very few parishioners have any say at all in selecting a pastor. Of course, having the parish hire the pastor will bring in new problems, but all in all it seems to be working for our Separated Brethern!

    Only comments with a full name will be approved.

  6. I appreciate the need to “adjust” some of the wording in the prayers in the Roman Missal. I did it with the former Sacramentary and I continue to do it with our new translations. I always try to do this with care and attention to the meaning of the prayer to which I am making the adjustments.

    Sometimes it involves dividing one unnecessarily long sentence (and the idea it intends to convey) into two sentences, eliminating the third or fourth “and” at the beginning of a phrase.

    Sometimes it is a rearrangement of the order of phrases as I try to get the subject and verb in closer proximity for the sake of clarity and understanding.

    Sometimes I am flummoxed! Directed by the Ordo to the prayers for the 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time, I found this Prayer Over the Offerings:

    “Recieve, O Lord, the sacrifice of conciliation and praise and grant that, cleansed by its action, we may make offering of a heart pleasing to you. Through Christ our Lord.”

    I think I know what the prayer intends to say. Since I don’t have the language skills to refer to the Latin text, I can’t look to see if a word was left out or if a phrase was improperly placed in the sentence. I hope, truly, that my re-working of the text keeps the meaning the Church intends.

    I conclude that in too many cases faithfulness to the Latin syntax was favored over providing English prayers that make good sense.

    1. Ouch. Just for reference, the Latin is:

      Suscipe, Domine, sacrificium placationis et laudis,
      et praesta, ut, huius operatione mundati,
      beneplacitum tibi nostrae mentis offeramus affectum.

      But the 2011 translation appears to be missing words!

      Here’s what 1998 had:
      Accept, O Lord, this sacrifice of reconciliation and praise,
      that its working may cleanse us from sin
      and make our hearts a gift pleasing to you.

      Here’s what 2008 had:
      Receive, O Lord, the sacrifice of conciliation and praise
      and grant that, cleansed by its action,
      we may offer the desire of our heart pleasing to you.

      Here’s 2011 again:
      Recieve, O Lord, the sacrifice of conciliation and praise
      and grant that, cleansed by its action,
      we may make offering of a heart pleasing to you.

      Why not “make the offering” or “make an offering”? Why the abrupt and awkward “make offering”?

      1. What is this prayer supposed to mean?
        1998 means something — the working makes our hearts pleasing.

        2008 why “the sacrifice” instead of “this sacrifice”? And what does “pleasing to you” modify?

        2011 again the, not this, though “a heart pleasing to you” is better than “our heart pleasing to you.” It is not literal since it loses nostrae. And it is not better if it is the offering that is pleasing. But Is “offering” a noun? Isn’t offeramus the verb in Latin? And what happened to “affectum”? Is that where “make” came from? I don’t think we can blame Latin syntax, but it is not English either.

        So Fr Michael is doing better than me if he can make sense of either 2008 or 2011. “you will be pleased by the offering of our heart’s affection”? “we may offer our hearts to please you”? “pleasing to you our hearts we offer affectionately”?

    2. Interesting difference in translation:

      Saturday after Ash Wednesday
      Suscipe, quaesumus, Domine,
      sacrificium placationis et laudis,
      et praesta, ut, huius operatione mundati,
      beneplacitum tibi nostrae mentis offeramus affectum.

      2011
      Accept, we pray, O Lord,
      the sacrifice of conciliation and praise,
      and grant that, cleansed by its working,
      we may offer minds well pleasing to you.

      Sunday 12 in Ordinary Time
      Suscipe, Domine,
      sacrificium placationis et laudis,
      et praesta, ut, huius operatione mundati,
      beneplacitum tibi nostrae mentis offeramus affectum.

      2011
      Receive, O Lord,
      the sacrifice of conciliation and praise
      and grant that, cleansed by its action,
      we may make offering of a heart pleasing to you.

      The phrase “placationis et laudis” seems to be translated consistently as “conciliation and praise” in the propers (cf. Aug 15; Common of the BVM during the year #6; Common of martyrs during Easter: one martyr; Various occasions: for the forgiveness of sins #1).

      1. 2008 Saturday after Ash Wednesday
        Receive, we pray, O Lord,
        the sacrifice of atonement and praise,
        and grant that, cleansed by its action,
        we may offer hearts and minds pleasing to you.

        2008 Sunday 12 in OT
        Receive, O Lord,
        the sacrifice of conciliation and praise
        and grant that, cleansed by its action,
        we may offer the desire of our heart pleasing to you.

      2. Aha!
        Thank you!
        One more question if you have the time: what about 1973?

        Maybe you’re the first person ever to notice that the Latin was the same!

      3. They differ in the 1973 text too.

        1973 Saturday after Ash Wednesday
        Lord,
        receive our sacrifice praise and reconciliation.
        Let it free us from sin
        and enable us to give you loving service.

        1973 Sunday 12 in OT
        Lord,
        receive our offering, and may this sacrifice of praise
        purify us in mind and heart
        and make us always eager to serve you.

      4. And Clarie, for all our sakes, I hope I am not the first to have noticed this. I mean, yes, I have a database of the Latin propers in the Missal, but I’m surely not the first to have this, and I hope the people responsible for the Missal’s translation have had a similar tool.

      5. Thanks! (I wonder if 1998 also has variations. I bet it does.) I can’t think of any reason for those variations, other than it being an oversight.

      6. 1998 Saturday after Ash Wednesday
        Accept, O Lord,
        this sacrifice of reconciliation and praise,
        that its working may cleanse us from sin
        and make our hearts a gift pleasing to you.

        1998 Sunday 12 in OT
        Accept, O Lord,
        this sacrifice of reconciliation and praise,
        that its working may cleanse us from sin
        and make our hearts a gift pleasing to you.

        They look the same to me.

        Interesting that 1998 which did not labor under the requirements of Lit. Auth. rendered the two Latin prayers the same way (despite multivalent vocabulary), while 2008 and 2011 rendered them differently!

      7. So the people who prepared the 1998 texts realized that the two prayers were the same and therefore took care to translate them in the same way, but then, that recovered knowledge was later lost again. In this instance it’s not a question of taste but of methodical, thorough work.

        This small anecdote indicates that the 1998 translation seems to have been prepared with more meticulous care than any of the others.

        I agree with john robert francis – the CDW would benefit from your help!

      8. I suspect different people worked on different segments of the Missal, so such inconsistencies could easily slip in.

        I remember that the New Jerusalem Bible has similar problems: the notes don’t always correspond with the choice made by the biblical text translator.

      9. Simon, I suspect that too. That’s why meticulous work includes a phase of unification, precisely to check that such inconsistencies are dealt with.

    3. A prankster should interchange the two translations of the two prayers that are identical in Latin, and see if he get any complaints!

      1. The irony is that the translation is so arbitrary that such differences are likely. Then, when the version appears it is treated by some as if it were cast in stone.

  7. Jeffrey, you got here a step ahead of me – I was collecting the Latin text to post. Thank you!

    The 1973 translators rendered this clearly, I think:

    Lord, receive our offering, and may this sacrifice of praise purify us in mind and heart and make us always eager to serve you.

    There are a number of stumbling block words in the Latin – placatio, for instance, which means something like ‘appeasement’. Translating this as ‘appeasement’ or ‘placating’ or ‘placation’ doesn’t work because it sounds like soothing a child in a tantrum. ‘Reconciliation’ is better, but I’m sure that this was too ‘soft’ for the good folk at Vox Clara. ‘Conciliation’ to me has overtones of Jonathan Edwards’ ‘sinners in the hands of an angry God’.

    Operatio is also difficult, because it is one of those words that may be clearer when it is left out. And there is affectus, which means, more or less, ‘disposition’ or ‘state of mind’ or ‘passion’ (some Roman writers used it to translate the Greek πάθος).

    Is it better to try to translate every Latin word or simply to skip the ones that are likely to cause confusion, no matter how educated the listener or how careful the translator?

    1. Should difficult words be skipped altogether or should we instead find some way to get their meaning across? The 1973 translation omits the sense of “placatio” completely, unless I’m missing a subtlety somewhere. “Placatio” is translated elsewhere in the (2011) Missal as “reconciliation” rather than “conciliation”.

      “Operante” is rendered quite well in EP III as “(the) working”; does the working/action of a person seem more reasonable than the working/action of a thing? I prefer “working” over “action” in this case.

      And, because I’m interested in the pedigree of this prayer…

      Suscipe, domine, sacrificium placationis et laudis, quod nos interuenientibus sanctis et perducat ad ueniam, et in perpetua gratiarum constituat actione. (Veronese 33)

      Suscipe, domine, sacrificium, cuius te uoluisti dignanter immolatione placari, et presta, quaesumus, ut huius operatione mundati bene placitum tibi nostrae mentis offeramus affectum. (Veronese 1302)

      (BTW, “cuius voluisti immolatione placari” in Ver. 1302 appears again in EP III.)

      1. This sequence of translations reminds me of an email that circulated around Tandem Computers in the late 1980s. The source of it was someone who worked at Hewlett Packard as a Technical Writer. Her job was to make sense of the “english” produced by sub-contractors in the far-east… The example that sticks in my mind was the sentence “Please to not touching the batteries two times.” Vox Clara needed someone in her capacity 🙂

  8. I don’t think that difficult words should be skipped. I do think that the prayer I posted is awkward at best and meaningless at worst. Surely, other priests like me come across these “corrected” translations are are left equally flummoxed.

    As a preacher it is my goal to make difficult ideas/beliefs /mysteries not only understandable, but useful to my congregations. Some of these translations make me wonder if that was a goal of any importance to the translators.

  9. In general I have found the VC2010 unproclaimable and repair in whatever way possible.

    On a different subject, whose idea was it to remove all of the rubrics directing the presider to the appropriate preface? Leaving aside the issue of the quality of the preface translations, why did they removed the little red sentences that allowed the presider to find the preface easily?

    That omission in itself is adequate proof that the VC2010 translation is a thoroughly anti-pastoral work.

    1. Do you mean during Ordinary Time? Because I see pointers to the Prefaces in Advent.

      There is a general rubric right before the OT propers:

      5. Unless a Eucharistic Prayer is used that has a proper Preface, on Sundays one of the Prefaces for Sundays in Ordinary Time is said, pp. 572-587; but on weekdays, a Common Preface is said, pp. 610-621.

    1. The 1973 translators made a subtle move, and I think a very good one, by rendering the genitives placationis and laudis as descriptive rather than objective, and by supplying ‘this’ and ‘our’ before ‘sacrifice’. Hence it is a reconciling and praiseful sacrifice, rather than reconciliation or praise being the things sacrificed – which, as Joe points out, is a nonsense.

      I guess someone from the Liturgiam Authenticam department will complain that it could not be ‘this sacrifice’ or ‘our sacrifice’ because there is no hoc or nostrum in front of sacrificium. I still think the 1973 captures the sense of the prayer more effectively.

  10. Fr. Jim Blue :

    There was a succession of hands-off bishops there and quite of bit of housecleaning needed to be done.
    Not that I would agree with everything that has been done, or how it has been done, but the predecessor left problems for the current ordinary.

    Hmm, my archbishop, Wilton Gregory, was bishop in Belleville, before coming to Atlanta. He seems to be a very good spiritual leader as well as administrator. Just wondering . . .

    1. Vic……and how, do you think he became an Archbishop? One does not get there by being a good spiritual leader or a good administrator, they are accidental to the process. One gets the pallium through 80% politics (politics = USCCB) and 20% luck and opportunity. Fr. Blue is spot on in his comment, without naming him, he alludes the place was left a mess…and it was. Wilton has been on the uptown train for quite some time and lost any interest in the governance of Belleville.

      1. I have roots and connections in the Belleville Diocese; and Abp Gregory does seem to be the rare man who can navigate both the pastoral realm of being an Ordinary AND the various nuances of being an administrator in the Church. The people in Belleville were very fond of him, and apparently worked well with the priests. He was President of the USCCB in 2002, you may recall; he not only got the Bishops to agree to stricter norms than many of them wanted, but he also faced the difficult task of convincing the Vatican that yes, it IS an issue that needs to be addressed, it’s NOT just an anti-Catholic secular media (many of the reporters on the investigative team in Boston were themselves practicing Catholics), and that yes, we DO need norms this strict to deal with the problem.
        In his case, at least, the politically savvy does not cancel out his pastoral acumen.

  11. Jeffrey Pinyan

    And the Italian:

    12th Sunday in Ordinary Time

    Accogli, Signore, la nostra offerta: questo sacrificio di espiazione e di lode ci purifichi e ci rinnovi, perche’ tutta la nostra vita sia bene accetta alla tua volonta’.

    Saturday after Ash Wednesday

    Questo sacrificio di espiazione e di lode ci purifichi e ci rinnovi, Signore, perche’ tutti i nostri pensieri e le nostre azioni siano conformi alla tua volonta’.

    As the Italians say: Boh!

    How soon can you begin your internship at CDW?

  12. FYI — if any of you can get thee to a library that subscribes to _Worship_ (or want to special order the single issue, or even subscribe) there is an article in the January 2012 issue on this very topic of altering the words in the Roman Missal. It covers the long (and often accepted) history of doing so, the rise of rubricism, and the relative severity of the practice regarding the appropriate canons.
    I don’t know if or when the Editor might have permission to make a PDF available here; or perhaps one of the official contributors could post a detailed summary of the article.

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