“…a wide range of opinions and observations about the Roman Missal…”

The newly-founded Association of U.S. Catholic Priests had its inaugural convention at St. Leo’s University (it’s Benedictine, btw) this past June. The organization has started rather vigorously, with over 750 members and some 250 at its first meeting. I was a key-noter, as was Dr. Richard Gaillardetz. At the encouragement of Fr. Michael Ryan, a resolution was passed encouraging the U.S. bishops to use their full collegial authority in addressing the problems of Liturgiam authenticam (the translation gyuidelines in force) and the new English missal.

Now Cardinal Dolan, president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, has sent a friendly and sympathetic reply through the USCCB’s liturgy office. It reads:

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, President of the USCCB, forwarded your letter of July 2, 2012, to me and asked me to respond on his behalf.  The Committee on Divine Worship has received a great deal of feedback expressing a wide range of opinions and observations about the Roman Missal, Third Edition, and the catechetical process of preparation for its implementation.  I am grateful for the feedback and the concerns of those who participated in the meeting of the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests earlier this year.  I will share your letter and the resolution of AUSCP with the members of the Committee on Divine Worship in preparation for their next meeting in November, 2012 in Baltimore.  I would be happy to discuss this with your further.

I gather the word has worked its way upward that something didn’t work in the whole missal saga. It is noteworthy that the cardinal’s response acknowledges divergent opinions and is respectful of the AUSCP for speaking up. As the AUSCP has written to its membership,

This is a small breakthrough but may be a “foot in the door” to an eventual dialogue with bishops.  It is a small sign of hope; it is a big step forward for our fledgling AUSCP!



  1. I this another organization that is trying to sow disunity among Catholics?

    All I know is that in my parish attendance is not down at all since the new translation. On the contrary it is up.

    I fail to see what ” cumbersome style, arcane vocabulary, grammatical anomalies, and confusing syntax”, would have to do with the catchword phrase “pastoral concerns”. If they are interested in clear non confusing understandable texts, they should join the Gnostics. These texts should speak to the heart more than the reason, with more hierarchical, profound (often complex), and special language and vocabulary (symbolism) so as to lead the people to apprehend that they are facing the mysterium tremens at Mass, not some kind of Tupperware party. The new translation is a nice start.

    1. @Victor Wowczuk – comment #1:
      I don’t know if parish attendance is up or down; I am not aware of any attendance records being kept. But even assuming, arguendo, that attendance is up (or down) it seems unlikely to me that the Missal translation is the cause either way.

      There are lots of reasons people attend church, and the best reasons involve faithful worship. At the same time, economic strife – particularly joblessness – war and uncertainty over the future are major reasons people attend and I think we are faced with those things at this time. Psychologically, we aren’t all that different from our Hebrew ancestors: in good times it’s all about what we want, but in bad times, we are penitent and faithful and ask God to ‘take us back’. And there are no atheists in foxholes.

      I don’t view efforts by the AUSCP to be anything but faithful: it is important that the translation be faithful to the Latin text, but it is also important the English-speaking congregations (and clergy for that matter) get the best that can be had in the way of translation.

  2. Looks like sweet reason is actually beginning to prevail in episcopal circles. They should have listened to Trautman.

  3. Cardinal Dolan’s comments strike me as a nothing more than a simple acknowledgment of the resolution passed by AUSCP. I don’t see anything friendly or sympathetic about it. He’s simply saying “Thank you for writing. We’ll be in touch.”

    If this is considered a “breakthrough,” that says more about the sad state of conversation between the CDW and the rest of the church than about any potential problems (or changes) in the missal. I suppose this is better than Cardinal Dolan slapping down the AUSCP for daring to offer criticism, but that’s a pretty low bar.

    “We’re excited the Cardinal was polite!” is not a cause for rejoicing.

  4. There is no “conversation between the CDW and the rest of the church,” but the tiniest flickers from Tobin and Dolan show EITHER that they think the new translations have won out so that their critics can be treated kindly, no longer a threat OR that they themselves are beginning to see that the new translations are unsatisfactory. It’s a bit like courtiers studying shades of expression on the Monarch’s countenance.

  5. I have to say I too read the tea leaves as “this is a polite response which means little or nothing.” Dolan sent the request on to — whom? The staff of the liturgy secretariate? The bishop head of the BCDW? It isn’t clear to me from the post.

    From my days working in the NY Archdiocese I can tell you, though, that important missives got replies directly from the person addressed, even if someone else wrote them for him, and only the lesser ones were sent on for others to make the reply. Therefore I read it as a put-down. Neverthelesss I don’t think this should discourage the group from pressing its case. Keep asking. Don’t be discouraged. Be persistent. If it were easy, it would have been done by now!

  6. My view is that Cardinal Dolan’s response means more than little or nothing. This new priests’ group has no official standing, and likely as not, the formation of such an organization would be watched with not a little apprehension by the powers that be. It’s noteworthy that Dolan responded at all; that he made a commitment to further action – even if the commitment is simply to pass it up the chain of command; and that he is open to further discussion with the AUSCP.

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