A bishop’s praise of Bishop Trautman

Bishop Robert Lynch of the Diocese of St. Petersburg pays tribute to Bishop Donald Trautman, emeritus of Erie, PA, and tells a story about this “Lion of the Liturgy” that I had never heard before.

[HT to Whispers in the Loggia, Live from Page Three….]


  1. My thanks to Bishop Lynch for the fine tribute to Bishop Trautman. He was a voice of reason and knowledge among the Bishops when it came to liturgy. Bishop Trautman will surely be missed, perhaps not by all the Bishops, but certainly by the clergy and laity who have no voice in our Church. Sadly, backroom deals and Vatican arm-twisting have taken the place of collegiality and the role of the Bishops’ Conferences, despite the processes set forth in the Dogmatic Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy promulgated by a Church Council. Bishop Trautman, thank you for speaking up for us, the Truth, and the Church you have loved and served so faithfully.

  2. Although I taught at Christ the King Seminary long after Bp Trautman had departed for Erie, two memories stand out for me. One was from an informal session with the sems in which he articulately and strongly defended inclusive language in the liturgy on the simple grounds that this is the direction in which the English language is evolving. Another was a brief exchange in the sacristy, in which he urged me to continue to “Teach! Teach! Teach!” about Vatican II. And I have faithfully carried out his charge ever since.

  3. While I certainly wish His Excellency well in his retirement years, I must say that I am most happy that his vision of liturgical language, in particular, did not win out in the translation process for the 3rd Edition of the Roman Missal. Inclusive language is a no go. I met Bishop Trautman at the March for Life Mass at the DC Verizon Center several years ago, and I was gracious to him, as he was to me (I even kissed his ring), but I can’t say that I agree with him on his approach to liturgical matters. That being said, I certainly hope he has many more years of long life and peaceful respite.

  4. I join with Rushad Thomas in wishing His Excellancy a good retirement. Sometimes when prelates make comment on liturgical matters we see their liturgical credentials questioned. Interesting that it has not happened here.

    1. @Shane Maher – comment #4:
      Shane, is this about credentials or about politics? Are you saying you want his credentials to be questioned because you don’t like his views? If you have a question about the liturgical credentials, bring it up.

      1. @Shane Maher – comment #16:
        Trautman has two licentiates and a doctorate in Scripture, and a life-long interest in liturgical renewal, which publications and addresses reflecting that he has remained well-read in the field, which is no doubt part of the reason why his brother bishops elected him head of the USCCB committee on liturgy.

        Burke doesn’t have a doctorate in scripture or liturgy – or any area, as far as I know.


      2. @Anthony Ruff, OSB – comment #17:
        ++Burke’s cv from Archdiocese of St. Louis:
        •Doctorate in Canon Law (JCD) with specialization in jurisprudence, Pontifical Gregorian University,
        Rome, Italy, 1984.
        •Diploma in Latin Letters, Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome, Italy, 1983.
        •Licentiate in Canon Law (JCL), Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome, Italy, 1982
        •Master of Arts in Theology, Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome, Italy, 1975.
        I think it would be difficult to argue that His Eminence lacks a life-long interest in liturgical renewal. His public addresses and published commentary on matters liturgical show that he has remained well-read in the field to the degree that the Holy Father has appointed him to the Congregation for Divine Worship (2010), a member of the Congregation for Bishops, and a member of the Congregation for the Clergy. If it is a background in Sacred Scripture that makes one a legitimate commentator on things liturgical I’d point out that Cardinal Ranjith earned his Licentiate in Sacred Scripture in 1978.

  5. Inclusive language in liturgy is inevitable; or put more exactly, official sanction of horizontal inclusive liturgical language is inevitable.

    Fresh out of Catholic school I was very opposed to inclusive language, but now find “mankinds” and “chairmans” archaic.

    Inclusive language (both horizontal and vertical) is here, and has been in different degrees for many years in various communities I’ve worshipped with at home and abroad. I first encountered inclusive language more than 25 years ago where the more egregious exclusionary words in the breviary and lectionary had been replaced. Bishop Trautman is right: it’s a natural process of linguistic evolution. To fight it, especially horizontal inclusivity, is really a denial of how human processes work and how well the Church has inculturated the Gospel message down the ages — archaic words simply distract, they draw our attention to the language and not to the message itself, quite apart from any hurt they may cause.

    1. @Graham Wilson – comment #6:

      I agree with Graham and Bp. Trautman that inclusive language, at least on a horizontal level, is an inevitable and even salutary evolution of the English language. Certain changes in English grammatical gender agreement, such as the shift in the pronominal reference to institutions from the feminine grammatical gender to the neuter grammatical gender (i.e. the change of the institutional Church from a ‘she’ to ‘it’), directly reflect changes in secular usage. I was quite disappointed when the current translation of the Roman Canon reverted to the use of “she” to refer to the institutional Church instead of “it” as was the case in the older 1967 translation. Some might contend that the use of the grammatically feminine pronoun is related to the gendered metaphorical language which colors the relationship between the institutional Church and the eucharist. I would counter that gendered metaphors are obscured when more modern linguistic conventions are ignored.

      English, unlike closely related languages, still does not have a common pronoun to replace “he or she” when the gender of a person is not known or is irrelevant. Using ‘she’ instead of ‘he’ as the default pronoun is a solution, but one that is in my experience confusing for some. “Singular their” is also wanting, in my opinion. Until various world English dialects develop a fourth pronoun declension, horizontal inclusive language in liturgy will remain a difficult question.

      1. @Jordan Zarembo – comment #12:

        Dealing with non-exclusive language isn’t terribly difficult. For instance, there have been any number of inclusive language translations of the Psalms. Here is a short list of what is already in existence:

        Psalter for the Christian People: An Inclusive-Language Revision of the Psalter of the Book of Common Prayer (1979 Pueblo Books)

        Joseph A. Arackal, V.C., (http://www.stthomasdiocese.org/users/frjoseph) has been a Catholic pioneer in the use of inclusive language and his publications include: Praying in Inclusive Language: Morning & Evening Prayer – The Four Week Psalter (1992 Patmos Publications) and The Psalms in Inclusive Language (1993 The Liturgical Press). For a sample of his translation, go here: http://bibles.wikidot.com/sample-arackal. He also has produced a book entitled Twenty-Two Gathering Prayers: Praying in Inclusive Language (1992 Sheed and Ward).

        The bottom line is that producing credible inclusive language prayers for Catholic audiences is not exactly rocket science. It’s a matter of willingness, not possibility.

    2. @Graham Wilson – comment #6:
      Graham, I disagree with you that inclusive language is inevitable. At least one poll showed that the “people in the pews” do not prefer inclusive language suggesting that pastorally it would only be an unpleasant imposition probably because inclusive language is artificial and forced.

      According to the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research at the University of Connecticut (2/1997) “… a convincing 71 percent (of) Catholics rejected the notion that “terms such as ‘man’ and ‘mankind’, when used to refer to all people, seem to exclude women”. When asked whether the Church should avoid the use of those masculine-gender pronouns, respondents dismissed that suggestion by a resounding 69-21 percent margin.

      The responses of women were only marginally different from those of men; women rejected those propositions by margins of 69-26 percent and 69-22 percent respectively.
      The Roper poll also asked respondents to compare four pairs of Scripture texts. Three of the pairs compared passages from the New American Bible with Revised New American Bible proposed for use in a new Lectionary (Scripture readings for Mass); a fourth compared the NAB with the new ICEL Psalter.

      In every case, the majority of those who expressed a preference opted for the standard English version. Between 35 and 50 percent expressed strong preference for the standard version; while strong preference for the neutered version never exceeded 22 percent. Women as well as men favored the standard English translation in each pair.

      The Roper poll also showed that “pastoral” accommodation of the minority who demand neutered language would offend as many as it would please.

      In a perfect bell curve, the 8 percent who said they would be more likely to attend Mass in their parishes if an “inclusive language” translation of the lectionary were introduced was exactly balanced by another 8 percent who would be less likely to attend.”

      1. @Shane Maher – comment #19:
        Well, I can’t comment properly because I haven’t seen the questions or the results.

        But since when does the Church do what people want; just because the majority may be uncomfortable with gender inclusive language? Do I detect the whiff of a nascent tendency to democracy? 😉 One could also equally state that the liturgy is meant to jog us out of our comfort zones, so inclusive language would be an opportunity for the institutional Church to be ahead of its membership — perhaps like it is in its social teachings.

        I see that the survey was done 15 years ago. I’m not sure how the sample respondents were chosen but it would appear that only US Catholics were polled. The results probably don’t apply very well to the rest of us in the English-speaking Catholic world. We’d need Jack to guide us.

  6. God bless Bishop Lynch! First of all for being so gracious and caring to a brother Bishop and second, for supporting Bishop Trautman in his efforts to bring the best of our liturgical tradition into the future.
    Sr Michaelene

  7. Bishop Trautman is an intellectually honest man who demonstrated the courage of his well informed convictions. He clearly loves the church he was ordained to serve, but made a valiant effort to persuade a room full of company men that RM3 was not ready for prime time (my words not his). Because other voices prevailed we have both a lectionary and a missal that fail to deify or inspire Christ’s faithful.

    1. @Jack Feehily – comment #8:
      Interesting comment about a bishop trying to persuade a “room full of company men”. Something similar could have been said about ++Dwyer of Portland in the late 1960’s re. the former ICEL translation or even of Cardinal McIntyre. The more things change ….
      PS: why do I always seem to end up on moderation?

      1. @Shane Maher – comment #11:
        PS: why do I always seem to end up on moderation?

        Shane, whenever a comment has more than one link in it, it is auto-moderated, to prevent spammers from posting comments about where we can buy Louis Vitton or DKNY handbags.

        A “reply” comment has one link in it by default (the link to the comment being replied to), and then you included a second link, to an earlier thread. Thus, auto-moderation.

  8. It is unfortunately fact that many sling shots and arrows were directed his way because he had the courage of his convictions and didn’t hesitate to air them in the public square and among his brethren bishops. He is to be commended for putting his face, mouth and money (figuratively) to his interpretation of “lex orandi…”
    Would that we all could simply listen to him, to those of his brotherhood from whatever philosophical compass point (Burke, Vigneron, Dolen et al, and those from around the globe as well), take a breath and prayerfully consider “what” they’ve said, not “who” they are personally.
    We want our shepherds to lead, right? Well, we have to first recognize their voice as being from a shepherd, and then listen. May God bless Bps./Abps. Trautman, Bruskewitz, Levada, Niederauer and all who have earned some measure of rest and are worthy of respect for their office and their devotion to serving the Church as best they could.

  9. Since it was my comment that was cited – will leave at – agree with Fr. Ruff.

    This post was about Bishop Lynch’s memories and gratefulness for Bishop Trautman (especially his honorable leadership and contributions on liturgy for his diocese and the USCCB.) To insert a criticism on this post (that feels more political) – well,???

    The linked comment was about a current, living Cardinal (BTW – who has no liturgical credentials) who has publically campaigned for *foot of the altar prayers, ad orientem, last gospel, wears the cappa magna and other *finery*. The post’s context was *mutual enrichment* and asked for comments about what Burke was doing. My linked comment was one of frustration; significant disagreement with Burke’s choices/liturgical behaviors but my argument was developed and made points that had nothing to do with *credentials*. You appear to be taking things out of context or conflating things simply to make a *political* point. Read added comments in that specific post – it went on to lay out reasons to question Burke based upon positions held; decisions made; and public feedback to those decisions.

    History has already weighed in on folks such as Dwyer and McIntyre. You can try to compare Bishop Trautman’s liturgical & pastoral advocacy to Dwyer – but then do so.

    Sorry this took a turn – admired Bishop Trautman’s principled stand which, IMO, cost him emotionally, personally, and professionally. Nor did I agree with all of Bishop Trautman’s decisions on other diocesan matters (but that has no place in this post).

    1. @Bill deHaas – comment #15:
      Don’t see where any “point” was made beyond wondering why it is legitimate to criticize a Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church who speaks/writes on liturgical matters in an emotive manner whereas +Trautman who also spoke on matters liturgical while representing a minority view in his conference, seems to enjoy a different level of respect. It is not often that I see bishops who speak on matters liturgical treated similarly here. By the way, if you read carefully Bill, you will see that I make no criticism of His Excellancy or his views. My he enjoy his retirement in good health.

  10. One last observation in comparing these two *supposed* criticisms:
    – Bishop Trautman was expressing his expertise on the MR3 within a USCCB conference and vote. It was both appropriate and his responsibility esp. given that he had been the USCCB liturgy head for the prior two terms and had been a part of both the 1998 and the MR3 process. (BTW – previous posts and the taped discussions at the USCCB note that Cardinal George and his executive director approved certain MR3 sections without the vote or consensus of the USCCB. Some say – just an oversight. Others say something different. Bishop Trautman’s opinion about inclusive language is just one small part of his total views about LA, MR3, etc. Let’s not conflate them.)

    The post about Cardinal Burke had nothing to do with his role in Rome; nothing to do with his current or even past positions; it had nothing to do with a matter/vote before the USCCB. As such – would suggest that we are comparing *apples to oranges*. Bishop Trautman’s opinion about inclusive language, at least, is more connected to his USCCB statements and MR3 votes than Burke’s comments about *mutual enrichment* via foot of the altar, last gospel, etc. Cardinal Burke is not participating in an episcopal conference discussion – he is, rather, operating on his own and in a public church liturgy. Would suggest that his spoken/written statements would be fine if he left it at that. Rather, he takes the technical and legal permission of SP and presides at liturgies that can be seen advocating an ideology – is that really what the church’s liturgy is about? To use Fr. Ruff’s word – Burke appears *political* while Trautman was fulfilling his responsibilities and obligations as a bishop in the USCCB. (a more apt comparison – did Trautman ever speak from the pulpit about inclusive language since that seems to be the comparison here?)

    To be clear – am not criticizing Burke the cardinal but am criticizing his liturgical and pastoral public decisions and displays.

  11. @Anthony Ruff, OSB – Comment 17.

    All bishops must ordinarily hold a doctorate, cf. Canon Can. 378 §1.5:

    “In regard to the suitability of a candidate for the episcopacy, it is required that he is… in possession of a doctorate or at least a licentiate in sacred scripture, theology, or canon law from an institute of higher studies approved by the Apostolic See, or at least truly expert in the same disciplines.”

    Both Cardinal Burke and Bishop Trautman possess these credentials, and therefore satisfy this requirement.

  12. @Graham Wilson – comment #6:
    Certainly a worthy perspective, but I don’t see how you can think that inclusive language is inevitable, especially considering the way things have gone regarding the second edition of the CCC, the reorganization of ICEL, the issuance of Liturgiam Authenticam, and the thoroughly masculine English translation of the 3rd edition of the Roman Missal. The trend seems to be going in the opposite direction of inclusive language, and I’m sure the re-translation of the Liturgy of the Hours that will inevitably occur in accordance with Liturgiam Authenticam will also reflect this. Your thoughts?

    1. @Rushad Thomas – comment #24:
      Hmm… it seems to me that English inclusive language for some of those presently in authority is but a precursor to a process of equality in the Church that will eventually lead to women’s ordination, and thus must be fought at every turn behind the shields of “tradition” and male clericalism.

      But of course, precisely the same danger lies elsewhere, for example in elevating Mary to mediatrix and co-redeemer.

      As for Liturgiam Authenticam: it’s a document based on idiotic, ahistorical and linguistically absurd principles. It’s a disgrace that good, thinking people could have produced it in the first place. It’s an embarrassment that should be consigned to the dustbin. A new generation of liturgical authorities that won’t lose face will replace it.

      And new generations of English-speaking bishops will emerge to claim the the liturgy for their various national churches. ICEL is already a shadow of its former self, probably fatally wounded by the CDW. It will eventually splinter, I suspect, as national churches inculturate their English liturgies more and more.

      We live in interesting times, as they say…

  13. Based on the information presented here, it appears that Bishop Trautman would be viewed as a professional in the areas of theology, scripture, and liturgy, while Cardinal Burke is a professional in canon law. It also appears that each man has been appointed or elected to positions consistent with his professional training.

    It is possible to be informed and interested, but not have the training, expertise, and authority that a professional has when speaking on a subject. Thus, Cardinal Burke can speak about liturgy without being an authority on it, and Bishop Trautman can speak about canon law without being an authority on it.

    1. @Jeff Rexhausen – comment #25:
      “It also appears that each man has been appointed or elected to positions consistent with his professional training.”

      I can understand that a specialist in Scripture would be helpful when discussing the Lectionary but I can also understand how a specialist in Church law would be helpful when discussing liturgical norms and the interpretation of them. I am not clear how either background would make one any more expert than the other.

  14. I am now confused.
    It was Bishop Trautman, I believe, who is the one (I didn’t say ‘grinch’) whom I had heard got bent out of shape by the appearance of ‘gibet’ in the new translation, together with a sprinkling of other nice words that one has known since he picked them up by osmossis as a mere child in the Epsicopal Church. Now, I am reading that this Bishop Trautman holds a handful of impressive academic credentials and is said to be one of God’s gifts to the liturgical world.
    Yes, I am confused because it doesn’t add up.
    It never ceases to amaze me that highly educated Catholic prelates and professors seem to think that ‘the faithful’ have, or ought to have a third grade (eighth at the most) vocabulary and no ability at all to comprehend a sentence that contains more than the bare minimum of words required for it to qualify as a sentence. To me, such men are an insult and their academic degrees misconferred. They are supposed to pass on their learning, share it, educate their charges; but, no, they seem to be quite happy to have them linguistically challenged – and to see that they stay that way.

    We are here again treated to the notion that the 1998 translation would have been a panacea. Though I have seen very little of the collects and other priestly parts, it does seem that they were a great improvement over that from which we were deliverd last Advent. As for the order of mass and the ‘people’s parts’, the 1998 is scarcely an improvement at all. Neither Gloria nor Sanctus was repaired, nor was the dialogue repaired. The vaunted 1998 is much ado about nothing. And, we are fortunate to have been spared it.

    We well never have the translation that we deserve until the task is given to a poet of rare grammatical gifts who is told to write and translate as he or she is inspired, only staying within the bounds of the Magisterium (and free of a feminist watching over his or her shoulder). (Oh! And no committiees nor surveys nor such: Just let such a literary gift be bestowed upon us as was Cranmer’s.)

    Having said all that, I do sincerely wish Bishop Trautman a happy retirement and continued usefulness and growth in the faith.

    1. @M. Jackson Osborn – comment #26:
      Let me offer a corrective and some clarification.

      I don’t think Bishop Trautman’s strongest argument was against the vocabulary of MR3. My sense is that MR3 has a lot of good words, but they’re misused. You can give a gymnastics team all the Dallas Cowboys’ cleats, pads, and such. It’s just that they’re not going to do much good on the balance beam.

      “We are here again treated to the notion that the 1998 translation would have been a panacea.”

      This is a caricature of the argument in favor of it. It would have been the first permanent rendition of the post-conciliar Missal in English, a product of nearly two decades of discernment and negotiation. Nobody is seriously expecting any earthly liturgy to have universal curative powers.

      As for the academic gifts of bishops, what’s to say about guys who are routinely given special degrees for an appointment from the Congregation of Bishops? When was the last time a theologian was s/elected as a bishop? Is it enough to know we have an operating theology of the Body–many gifts, many different persons? Are we to believe all bishops are great scholars, managers, recruiters, fundraisers, pastors, bureaucrats, company men, preachers, liturgists, catechists, evangelists, fathers to clergy and seminarians, etc.? Which gifts do you think are singled out by the CB these days?

  15. As someone who spent a lot of time and energy in the trenches on behalf of inclusive usage, I offer this thought:

    Liturgical vernacular inevitably lags shifts in everyday usage; it cannot take on the burden of leading them prescriptively (btw, this is one of the very problems with trying to revive so-called “hieratic” English; it’s just the flip-side of the same problem).

    Inclusive usage is *not* yet so universal or settled that it has made non-inclusive usage archaic. It may have done so in some circles, but far far from almost all of everyday life (which people in those circles may strain not to notice). I hear non-inclusive usage all the time from men *and* women and children in all sorts of contexts, and even in media like NPR and other places you might think it had been euthanized in the 1990s. Right now, inclusive language co-exists with non-inclusive language and has not yet settled (one tell-tale sign of how unsettled it is is how awkward it can sound in many, if not all, contexts).

    The vernacular translation in Missal will eventually reflect where usage settles in this regard. We’re not there yet, and the Missal can’t lead us there because there is no there there, yet.

    Live in hope, not expectation.

    As they say in recovery, expectations are pre-meditated resentments.

    And resentment is *never* something of Christ or the Spirit.

    1. @Karl Liam Saur – comment #31:
      “And resentment is *never* something of Christ or the Spirit.”

      True enough. But resentment is not always the result of cloddish people insisting on older language when “newer” people are around. An example: it might be very bad manners for a priest to visit a women’s religious community and “Pray, brethren,” as much as it would be for a lay person to approach a new bishop and ask, “Say, when are you planning to ordain a woman priest?”

      Each event may well be grounded in sincerity on the part of the speakers and listeners, but it might also indicate a lack of prudence, or even the basic social graces.

  16. Bishop Trautman was sent for theology studies prior to ordination to the Canisianum in Innsbruck. One of his professors was Josef Jungmann, SJ.

  17. Todd,

    Yes. The key to resentment, though, is that it begs to be nursed, nurtured and cultivated, regardless of the understandable prompt for it. That’s where it differs from merely being hurt or harmed. Now, the victimizer can help sustain a cycle of resentment, and then bears co-responsibility for it, of course….

  18. I sent Bishop Trautman a lengthy thank you letter over a year ago
    for articulating so well on behalf of many of us. His voice in the
    USCCB will be missed.

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