Shakeup at Vatican Worship Office

Today’s Bollettino in Rome reports that Archbishop Augustine Di Noia‘s short run (since 2009) as secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship has ended. He has been named vice president of the pontifical commission “Ecclesia Dei” – that’s the one that deals with the reconciliation of followers of Marcel Lefebvre who reject the Second Vatican Council, and also deals with all the oddities and contradictions arising from the universal permission to celebrate the pre-Vatican II Mass since 2007 with Summorum Pontificum.

The new secretary of the CDW is Bishop (soon to be Archbishop) Arthur Roche, bishop of Leeds and chairmen of ICEL 2002-2012, during the difficult years that produced the botched new English Missal. (The work of ICEL and the bishops of the English-speaking world was undone when someone in Rome made over 10,000 arbitrary changes to the text at the last instant.)

In April 2010 the final Missal text (this final text was to be revised several times) was presented to Pope Benedict XVI at a lovely luncheon in Rome with Vox Clara. (Vox is the advisory committee to the Congregation on matters of English translation, when it isn’t functioning as the quasi-translation agency that holds ICEL under its thumb.) No one from ICEL was invited to the lovely luncheon – this amid reports that Bishop Roche was in Rome at the time.

Bishop Roche will stay on as apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Leeds for the time being. In a letter to his clergy this morning he wrote, “While I accept this appointment wholeheartedly in obedience and in trust, I was surprised and not a little shocked by this news.”




  1. Fingers crossed the 1998 translation will shortly come into use. I wrote to Bishop Roche several years ago expressing my concerns over the leaked proposed words that had begun to circulate. I’m sure he will know the strength of feeling in the (British) English speaking world about what we now have.

    1. “Fingers crossed the 1998 translation will shortly come into use.”

      Whether you love, like, hate, or are simply indifferent to the 1998 translation, I think we all have to recognize the reality this is an extremely remote prospect. The Pope and Canizares seem content with the 3M, and it does not seem that any of the Anglophone bishops conferences have the stomach for reopening this battle for the time being.

      Bp. Roche as secretary will have real influence, but not that kind of power. But take heart, if you’re dismayed by recent trends in Rome: What a sea change from the likes of Malcolm Ranjith this appointment represents.

  2. I believe the new secretary of a Congregation is, on announcement of appointment, already styled archbishop. So it is now Archbishop Roche, secretary of CDWDS and archbishop-bishop emeritus of Leeds.

    It is unusual to have two English-speakers (or any other language other than Italian) among the three superiors (prefect, secretary, under-secretary) of a Congregation. Father Anthony Ward, SM, is the present under-secretary. Not only two English-speakers, but both from the same country. Watch this space?

  3. Mark Coley:

    I very much doubt it. Better to uncross your fingers, and save yourself the pain.

  4. Archbishop-designate Roche has more than his share of detractors and admirers. Was his appointment a way of rewarding him for not being named archbishop of Westminster? Is there a cardinal’s hat to be awarded to him at the next consistory, especially if he turns out to be as compliant as was his predecessor?

    There seems to be no bounds to the Vatican rewarding mediocre workmanship and those who obey orders and don’t rock the boat.

    1. Is there a cardinal’s hat to be awarded to him at the next consistory, especially if he turns out to be as compliant as was his predecessor?

      It would be very unusual for the secretary of a congregation to be made a cardinal, its the prefect that is usually a cardinal. He’ll likely have at least a couple of years in the job before going somewhere else where his job could be the type of job usually filled by a cardinal. So no, it’s very unlikely that he’ll be made a cardinal at the next consistory.

    2. The last two secretaries – ++Ranjith and ++De Noia – certainly went on to bigger and better things. But that’s no guarantee, either. This is an important office, but sometimes men get kicked upstairs to important curial offices (see Burke, Raymond). Sorrentino was put out to pasture at Assisi. Either way, this is not a post that comes with a red hat.

      This is a curious appointment, out of sync with CDW appointments by Pope Benedict. There’s a tale to be told here, and it’s hard to think it was just about freeing up an English bishopric.

  5. Archbishop DiNoia, bigger and better things? This is a sideways move at best. Vice-presidente of Ecclesia Dei? A manufactured post, I think. Some say that the archbishop is not in good health.

    1. Would add the same thing about the Rajnith comments. Appeared that he incited so much resistance and anger that Rome moved him back home to Sri Lanka – yes, made a cardinal but his liturgical quirks continue to plague the people of God – ordering that communion must be received kneeling and not in the hand; etc. He makes no secret that he supports the TLM. Watch some of the videos of his liturgical celebrations – church triumphant in all of its finery. So, jarring to see in a land devastated by civil war and poverty.

      1. But traditionalists complain about the lack of regularly scheduled TLMs under Ranjith….

      2. I think that some things might be jarring to Western observers, but if you see the types of public celebrations that for part of religious practice on the popular level across the board in the Asian subcontinent, it is quite standard.

      3. I think that some things might be jarring to Western observers, but if you see the types of public celebrations that for part of religious practice on the popular level across the board in the Asian subcontinent, it is pretty standard.

      4. Joshua – don’t disagree but if you compare the style, tone, ornamentation, etc. – would say that there is a vast difference between a celebration in Manila and one in Sri Lanka under Rajnith.

  6. ” I’m sure he will know the strength of feeling in the (British) English speaking world about what we now have “.So writes Mark Coley.
    If that is the case , it is a shame that Bp Roche didn’t publicly comment on this wealth of feeling during his recent years as a member of the English hierarchy. But then the silence in this country since the joint pastoral in May 2011 has been deafening. Not one single word of appreciation of the difficulties this ill judged translation has caused to so many.
    I wish him well in Rome, but change? Don’t hold your breath.
    Chris McDonnell UK

    1. If Liturgicam Authenticam was set aside, for pastoral* reasons, the 1998 translation would then have no bar to it. Any new passages in the third edition of the Latin missal, added since 1998, could be translated in the same style. I’m sure the existing translators would be happy do this.

      * One simple pastoral reason is the current translation is dissuading attendance given the impression of God that comes across from it.

  7. Bishop Roche has been alone among the English bishops in challenging the Charities Commission repeatedly over their insistence that adoption agencies had to accept gay couples as prospective adopters in order to qualify for tax exempt status. He appears to have spent a lot taking the matter to the highest possible court, but has not been successful. Other dioceses such as Birmingham have decoupled their adoption service from other social services. Admittedly, the church doesn’t provide opportunities to donate to the new services. There seemed to be a disconnect in language, where Bishop Roche advocated for the “nazarene family” as the only acceptable model. I had never heard this expression before, and my immediate reaction was to think that the family of Jesus, as presented by the Roman Catholic church, is not typical of any couple likely to volunteer as adoptive parents. The civil authorities advanced evidence that there was not a huge need for third sector adoption agencies at the present time, and that gay couples had anyway shown themselves more successful than average in providing for children with challenging needs.

    1. Cathy

      +Roche’s stand against the changes to the law on adoption failed because the other side were able to show that the Catholic adoption agency in question had already placed children with single persons and with I married couples: in other words, the agency was already acting in contradiction to the teaching of the Church. This pick-and-choose approach to the teaching of the Chirch fatally undermined the argument that the agency needed to be exempted from the legislation in order to continue functioning.

      The point has been made by lawyers familiar with the the case that an argument based on the Human Rights Act would have been successful if it had been advanced.

    2. Cathy
      I do not understand what you mean by “not typical of any couple likely to volunteer as adoptive parents.” Still less how you could identify what makes a typical couple?
      The Catholic adoption agencies had a reputation for finding homes for children classed as ‘hard to place’ such as sibling groups, older children and disabled children. The number of failed adoptions was low.
      Bishop Roche was right to test the absurdity of the equalities law. The result is a reduction in the number of adoption agencies just as the government is beginning to realise that the system does not work well.
      So full credit to Bishop Roche.

  8. Thomas – the Leeds adoption charity case was protracted and complex, but I don’t think the most recent dismissal was on grounds of inconsistency. It seems to have hinged on whether there was a good, as claimed by Bishop Roche, in the form of additional adoptive placements which could compensate for the harm of discrimination against gay couples wishing to adopt, or the loss of their good will for this. The Tribunal judged that numbers of placements were in the end a function of local authority funding scenarios, rather than the voluntary adoption agencies. The judgment also raised issues such as the wide range of opinions of donating catholics on this issue. The boundary of where the church is allowed to remain a charity but also to act in contravention of human rights norms, such as its refusal of posts in ordained ministry to women and gay men, is defined in terms of public and private domains. Adoption would clearly be a public matter.

    Peter – I was really querying the wisdom of Bishop Roche stressing the church’s account of Mary and Joseph as exemplary for present day heterosexual couples in his arguments to a civil forum. Predominant church discourse presents Mary and Joseph as not having had a sexual relationship or further children, although this view is not accepted by other christians. I think a couple volunteering as adoptive parents would have such a relationship in the majority of cases.

    A comment of Bishop Roche on the missal translation: “We’ve been able to recapture something of the deprecatory sense of prayer in these texts which of itself demands greater poetry, greater preciseness but also a certain humility which English itself, by its own language, is able to deliver in such a very lovely straightforward way.”

    1. Thank you Cathy
      I looked at some of the judgements and think that you describe the case more accurately than Thomas.
      My recollection is that the reference to Joseph and Mary was understood, as intended, only as having a father and mother and no reference was made to a sexual relationship.
      By contrast Neil Addison has queried whether the most suitable legal arguments were used.
      Either way at least the Bishop tried to protect the agency whilst other bishops seem to have decided to fudge the issue.

      More importantly it shows how the spread of “Equalities” legislation makes Catholics less equal than others.

      Let us hope that this new appointment plays to the strengths of Bishop Roche.

    2. Hi Cathy

      I am happy to agree that inconsistency was not the grounds given for the dismissal of the case, but the inconsistency was used to undermine +Roche’s evidence on the centrality of Church teaching to the work of the charity (see para 24 of the judgment).

      On my reading, this is reflected in the terms in which the decision is explained.

  9. That is quite a comment on the new translation.

    Let’s run it through ELAT (the Electronic Liturgiam Authenticam Test).

    First, we ask Google Translate to put it into Latin [Jordan, n.b. this is Google doing the translation.]

    Potuimus sensum oratione deprecativa recepisse res ipsa flagitat in hiis que maiori studio sed etiam quaedam maioris humilitatis adcuratio ipsa sua lingua decora prorsus modo potest eripere tam bene.

    Then we ask Google to translate that back to English.

    We should have received a deprecatory sense itself demands in matters of greater care in their own language, but also a greater humility treatment beautiful way she is able to deliver as well.

    The text emerging from the two-way translation makes just as much sense as the original!

    1. re: Jonathan Day on June 27, 2012 – 5:00 am

      You are very right Jonathan — all of the above makes little sense in either language (or Googlized language). More importantly, I also think that you’ve discovered the Liturgicam authenticam Rosetta Stone. Google Translate translates a certain famous Latin eucharistic prayer’s first sentence into English like this:

      The original sentence

      Te igitur, clementissime Pater, per Iesum Christum, Filium tuum, Dominum nostrum, supplices rogamus ac petimus […] (my ellipsis)

      Google Translate renders into English as

      “To you, therefore, most merciful Father, through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, we humbly ask and we ask” […] (my ellipsis).

      Compare with the 2010 translation:

      “To you, therefore, most merciful Father, we make humble prayer and petition through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord” […] (my ellipsis]

      Also note that Google Translate offers a “Search for professional Latin translation”.

      That’s all I quote.

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