America on the New Translation

America magazine has a report, “New Translation Receives Wide Acceptance,” reporting on the CARA study that 70% think the new translation is a good thing, 30% do not.

Excerpt:

Anthony Ruff, O.S.B., an associate professor of theology at Saint John’s University and School of Theology-Seminary in Collegeville, Minn., reviewed the findings and said they suggested that “many people get used to ritual language and probably don’t pay real close attention to it.

“Most, not all, people accept the new texts,” he said, “but that doesn’t mean they’re any good; look at how well they accepted the bland texts we used to have.” He added, “Liturgists are glad the transition went well, but they still know mediocre English when they see it, and they’ll continue to call for a better revision with a better consultative process.”

8 comments

  1. look at how well they accepted the bland texts we used to have

    As well as the bland music (40% of the people in the Notre Dame Parish study didn’t like the music in their parish)

    And the bland homilies (priests put much less time than ministers into their homilies and it shows in the data)

    And the bland community of parishes (Catholics are much less satisfied than Protestants).

    We Catholics have just learned to accept mediocrity when it comes to the church.

    No wonder our priests are so happy!

  2. This seems an important distinction:

    “Catholics who attend Mass weekly were the most likely to be satisfied with the new translation, according to a report prepared for the Catholic University of America by Georgetown University’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate. Eighty-four percent said that the revised Mass was a “good thing.” Just over 60 percent of self-identified Catholics who rarely or never attend Mass, however, were not positive about the changes. ”

    Regular mass-goers are now immersed in the new missal, but those who attend mass rarely or never may have barely dipped their toes into the new translation over the course of a single year. For that audience, I’d think we’d need a substantially longer time frame – perhaps 5-10 years.

    Perhaps – perhaps – this difference in reaction between the two groups does signify that, contrary to the hopes expressed by some church officials, the new translation won’t be an effective tool to re-evangelize. Or perhaps it just means that those who need to be re-evangelized haven’t been adequately exposed to it yet.

    One other comment: the new missal has different audiences that “consume” it. The people actively speak a very small percentage of the words that are spoken over the course of a year, and their words have changed relatively little. Perhaps the same could be said of another stakeholder group, deacons. It is priests that speak most of the words, and that stakeholder group also has a legitimate right to have its reaction gathered, reported and weighed.

  3. It seems to me that we need to know how many priests have been editing the texts, or using older texts that they know by heart. Some people may not be even hearing the Latinized syntax and the worst features of the translation. It would be a mistake to assume that the results of this survey indicate how effective this new translation has been. Catholics are well known for their uncritical compliance.

    1. @Jack Feehily – comment #3:
      This is the case in one parish I know well, in which one of the priests uses the 1985 Sacramentary texts in a binder for the Collect and Prayer after Communion. Both he and the deacon do not avail themselves of the new dismissal texts. He omits, “like the dewfall” and a few other choice phrases in the EPs. With this presider, assemblies experience a mixed translation. I suspect that he is not the only priest making these types of choices, so I also question some of the CARA study data.

      1. @Pat Vallez-Kelly – comment #4:

        Wherever a “ceremonial binder” is used at the chair for the collect and the prayer after communion, the translation may not be from the 2010 missal. That’s been my experience presiding at Eucharist in a few parishes during the past 12 months.

    2. @Jack Feehily – comment #3:
      Then to what degree can we accept that the introduction of the 1970 missal was widely accepted in the years following its implementation even when surveys claimed it was? Do we know how many priests maintained some customs or ceremony originating in the EF? How many altar rails remained in use, how many birettas remained proudly worn, how many old offertory prayers were quietly recited? Maybe some priests kept a binder near their chair with the old collects or perhaps some continued reciting the low Mass prayers after the dismissal. Following your logic all this would need to be known before we accept that the missal of venerable Paul VI was ever received.

  4. “Most, not all, people accept the new texts,” says Anthony. I agree with what he adds, that “that doesn’t mean they’re any good”. But, judging by my experience in England, most catholics simply do whatever they are told to do, without considering the merits of the case – and, in this case, without making any ‘judgement’ one way or the other about the new texts. Any survey, however formulated, is likely to falsify the situation: since most indeed do comply as required and dutifully mouth the new responses, this same majority are likely, if asked, to indicate acceptance, even approval. Many (and I include myself) did not really appreciate what was about to happen. I would guess that most of those who have realised the significance of the event judge it negatively, both the new translation itself and the manner of its imposition.

  5. Sometimes when it comes to religion the concerns of the “experts” simply don’t seem to register with the people. Take Romney’s Mormonism.

    There were great concerns that the White Evangelicals might stay at home. However Pew reported post election

    There was considerable speculation during the 2012 primaries about the strength of support for Mitt Romney among white evangelical Protestants. A Pew Research Center analysis of exit poll data finds that white evangelical Protestants voted for Romney with as much enthusiasm as his other supporters did. In addition, white evangelical Protestants voted as heavily for Romney as they did for the GOP candidates in 2008 and 2004, and they made up about the same share of the electorate as they did in the two previous elections.

    So people didn’t hold Mormonism against Romney so that means that his candidacy for president must have changed people’s attitudes toward Mormons. Well not much at all.

    See The “Mormon Moment” Yields… Not So Much by Joanna Brooks

    http://www.religiondispatches.org/dispatches/joannabrooks/6716/the__mormon_moment__yields__not_so_much/

    82% of Americans surveyed by Pew say they learned little to nothing about Mormonism during the 2012 campaign.

    Nearly 50% said they still know “little to nothing” about Mormonism, a proportion unchanged from 2011.

    Only slight differences such as non-Mormons who characterize Mormons as “very different” from themselves was down from 65% of Americans surveyed to 61%. These gains were concentrated among Republicans voting for Romney. And the number one word survey participants associated with Mormons was“Cult.”

    The vast majority of America’s didn’t care or give much thought to Mitt Romney’s religion much like I suspect the vast majority of Catholics didn’t care or give much thought to the New Missal.

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