Irish Missal Survey

The Association of Catholic Priests (ACP)  recently commissioned a Missal survey polling the Irish clergy on the new English translation of the Roman Missal. You might recall that Pray Tell recently conducted its own survey on the new translation.

The ACP’s survey shows that while the vast majority (77%) of priests in Ireland surveyed use the texts of the new Roman Missal exclusively, when asked “which best describes your attitude to the New Missal?” 61% of respondents were either “dissatisfied” or “very dissatisfied.”

When asked what should become of the new edition of the Roman Missal, only 18% advocated that it continue to be used without any changes. 35% thought we should immediately return to the 1973 edition until a new missal can be made.

The survey ended with a cross tabulation:

A Crosstabulation was employed to investigate the interrelation between satisfaction levels and desire for change.

None of those who are ‘Very Satisfied’ with the New Missal would like to see a change to the Missal. Of those who are ‘Satisfied’ with the New Missal, over half would like to see a revised Missal become available within a few years. Whilst 61% are either ‘Dissatisfied’ or ‘Very Dissatisfied’ with the New Missal, a larger number (80%) want to see it replaced, including a large majority (81%) of those who said that they were ‘Neither Satisfied or Dissatisfied’ with it.

The ACP’s survey provides more support for those calling for the creation of a new English translation of the Roman Missal.



  1. This comes as no surprise. Just one more survey piled on that shows this translation is not received well. If we get any more I hope we can have enough to sink it

  2. Once again the results of this survey are no surprise. I participated in the survey myself, although I would not agree with many of the public positions of the ACP. However the problem that I have with the survey is that that it requires a choice between the 1973 and 2012 translations. While there might be no other valid option for such a survey, as mentioning the 1998 Sacramentary on a telephone survey might not work, the choice given is disingenuous.

    We don’t have to wait a few years for a new translation to come out, nor would we be forced to dust off the old 1974 Missal from the sacristy shelf. The 1998 Sacramentary is ready to roll. For pastoral reasons, it might be better initially to change the assembly’s parts to the 2012 version, just so that folks don’t have to change their responses a second time in a few years. But the rest of the 1998 Sacramentary (which is a translation of the Roman Missal prepared by the best and most experienced liturgical translators in the English-speaking worlds and approved by all the English-speaking Conferences of Bishops worldwide, and which was rejected out of hand by Rome for no good reason), still accomplishes the dual goals of a greater fidelity to the Latin original and also a fidelity to contemporary English usage. A new edition of that could be prepared in a matter of weeks.

    Unfortunately, this translation is simply unknown to the vast majority of priests and those who are outside of the field of professional liturgists simply don’t know it exists. Any priest I have shown the 1998 version to (wherever they are on the theological spectrum), prefers it to the 1974 and the 2012 versions.

    However, my cynical opinion is that not enough people care about liturgical translation to give the 1998 version a chance. Time and money has been put into the current 2012 version, therefore the majority of pastoral leaders, while they might not be very impressed by the current translation, aren’t willing to invest more time and effort in improving it.

  3. OK, OK. . yes, all of the English-speaking Episcopal Conferences in the world. . . 16, isn’t it. . approved the 1998 wonderful, reverent, prayerful, “faithful to the Latin text”, prepared by all the experts in Creation, “yet rejected by Roma-Locuta-Est-Causa-Finita-Est”. . .. is there are real, positive way we, the presbyterates of the USA, for example, can push for “recognition by Vatican” of that translation already approved by the Episcopal Conferences which is the firm order of directives approved “by the Church”?

    We talk around it, over it, about it ad nauseam . . ..till some of us don’t have the drive left to do anything. . . .and, haven’t you noticed with all our talk and stuff we end throwing up our hands and revert to DOING NOTHING. We are defeated before we begin. . .and “they” know it. Aren’t you sick of this? Look, I am 80yo
    and I am so weary of the doing-nothing. . . ISN”T there any hope? Any steps we can at least begin and get it out of the closet? As Fr Neil says, it is done. . wouldn’t take long to get it in use. And, while at it, let’s do a new Missal which won’t cost an arm and a leg. . “ad experimentum”.
    Blessings on us all. . .to do something besides cavetch.
    Peace and Joy in the Spirit. . ..Gerald

  4. To begin to move forward on this issue, the technical/poetry translation concerns must be separated from the “political” concerns of episcopal conference primacy. These are two very different challenges that have been conflated. The technical/poetry translation concerns should be left to the scholars. The politics must be resolved between the various conferences and Rome.

  5. Ken – unfortunately, I do not think the English-speaking conferences have any mind, stomach or will to resolve anything, with anyone or with Rome, mostly because they do not see the problem. The whole goofy translation mess is symptomatic of a most unfortunate general dumbing down of of the intellectual capacity and spiritual vigour in Church leadership, with obvious exceptions of course. But unless the English-speaking bishops move to rework the translation nothing of any significance will happen. Unfortunately, I do not think they are capable of taking the initiative, unlike their Vatican II predecessors. Like the reform of the Vatican finances, there needs to be a reform of the Vatican liturgical structures to give the bishops the freedom to inculturate the liturgy the way it should be (including having translations that are idiomatic and beautiful).

    1. @Graham Wilson – comment #6:

      There is one very obvious person who, theoretically at least, transcends all the barriers and “ticks all the boxes” as it were, to get something done.

      As chairman of ICEL, under his leadership what has come to be known as MR2008, the translation according to the principles of Liturgiam Authenticam, was finalised and approved by the world’s English-speaking episcopal conferences.

      He was incensed at the 10,000 or so changes Vox Clara then made, according to that commission’s own (unpublished and, some think, non-existent) rules.

      He was in Rome during, but not invited to attend, the luncheon in the Vatican on 28 April 2010 when the Vox Clara commission handed over the “finished product” (it was in fact a richly bound book of blank pages, because the 10,000 changes were still in progress) to Benedict XVI.

      He sat with the other bishops of England and Wales on 19 September 2010 and listened to Benedict XVI say “I want to take this opportunity to thank all of you for … the collegial exercise of reviewing and approving the texts” despite his own knowledge that the “collegial exercise” had been trumped by Vox Clara.

      He himself presented a specially bound copy of the new book (with the 10,000 changes that so incensed him) to the Pope on 19 October 2011.

      He was the Bishop of Leeds through these years, and was there for the implementation of the new texts. He experienced similar difficulties to those mentioned by the respondents to the survey, and he certainly heard many similar comments and complaints from clergy and people in his own diocese and elsewhere throughout the English-speaking world.

      On 26 June 2012, Benedict XVI appointed him Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, raising him to the dignity of Archbishop.

      No one in the world knows more about the situation than Archbishop Arthur Roche, and there is no one better placed to do something about it.

      Let’s see what happens.

      1. @Chris Grady – comment #8:
        “No one in the world knows more about the situation than Archbishop Arthur Roche, and there is no one better placed to do something about it.”

        He’s also hopelessly compromised by his own role in perpetrating the translation. It’s too late for him to go back on it now. He may know it was a mistake, but he’s committed to it. He burnt his bridges when he presented the bound copy, with errors, to the Pope in 2011. He won’t do anything about it. He can’t. He’d lose face, be laughed off the stage.

        I have more hope for the grumbling presbyters, and for those numerous bishops who have been in the background going along with this thing while having mental reservations about it. Time for some leadership from below.

  6. Even if the percentages of those who dislike the new translation were much smaller it would still be a serious concern regarding the translation process which has produced this horrible English. As a lay person I find EP1 almost impossible and wonder what others make of it. Among friends there is still some confusion in the Creed. While I think that the majority of lay folk are content to follow the 2011 liturgy there are some like me who would prefer to see change and the 1998 version would be a step forward. Many I know quietly say the old responses to themselves. Surely this is not the aim of good liturgy.

    What is perhaps more important is the next phase of the imposition of new translations – the Psalms and the Scripture readings. In the UK the Lectionary has used the Jerusalem version of the NT and OT while the Psalms are the Grail versions. In speaking to lay readers, I think there would be considerable unhappiness were these to be changed. The imposition of the NRSV of Scripture (an option at present) should be rejected. I often use the NRSV translation in small group studies. While it is good for accuracy and study it is not that good either for pronouncing or for listening to. The NRSV Psalms do not come anything close to the poetry of the Grail versions. So the issues are not over with the texts of the Missal.

    Sincerely L Macari

    1. @Louie Macari – comment #7:


      I believe the idea of a new Lectionary has been dropped. There was some talk of using the esv bible translation, but this has now rejected by the bishops.

      1. @Scott Smith – comment #9:

        ESV rejected not by the bishops (who have not been given the opportunity to make their views known) but, believe it or not, rejected by the Congregation (who once espoused it).

        The idea of a new Lectionary is still alive, but in a somewhat limbotic state at present. This is principally because all the major players who have been involved so far have absolutely no idea what is involved in editing a Lectionary. They can only think in terms of scripture translations. There is far more to editing a Lectionary than that (I speak as someone who was intimately and extensively involved with editing Lectionaries in the first half of the 1970s).

  7. i agree with Fr Neil…the 1998 edition has received the approval of all English speaking bishop conferences. Under Francis, it should get the Vatican approval in record time and be ready for Advent 2015 or sooner. We must echo Gerald’s post that unless the clergy (both priests & bishops) demand it, nothing will happen. This Pope listens and wants input from the bishops so let’s get moving and contact our bishops. Dump the 2011 and raise the 1998!!

    1. @joseph mangone – comment #11
      One could just start to gradually introduce the 1998 version into parish masses. Little by little it will spread like wildfire. Replacing the 2011 disaster by popular demand.

      1. @Brian Palmer – comment #18:
        Whatever the merits of one text or another gradual change means that one is never confident that a text will not shortly be changed. As Cardinal Heenan wrote in the preface to my 1975 missal: The laity “have grown tired of cards and pieces of paper. It will be an immence relief for them to be able to follow the whole of the Mass in their own book.”
        I suspect that many would feel cheeted if their recently purchased missals were to be put out of date so quickly.

      2. @Peter Haydon – comment #19:
        I’m not sure how typical our parish is, but I think there are few personal missals visible with the latest translation these days. For a start, you’d have to be rather determined to buy one, and most would have to use an online bookshop. The parish gets a Redemptorist printout of the service on the back of a newsheet, so it could potentially change quite quickly.

      3. @Cathy Wattebot – comment #22:
        The parish has bought a series of mass books that between them cover the three year cycle and sufficient numbers are distributed in the pews for each person to use one. A number of people prefer to bring their own missals.
        Presumably each parish will have bought expensive altar missals.
        It is not just a question of money but for parishes that are not overflowing with money the consideration is real.

  8. Besides contacting the bishops, write letters to Papa Francesco. He does get a lot of letters (last report was 6000/week) that are screened with about 100 a day going to him. I would think the sreeners would begin to respond to large numbers of letters coming from English speaking countries with stories especially about how this translation has affected you personally or how it has affected your parish community. (He apparently wants to read those where the writer has a faith crisis/issue) I wrote this letter already, explaining how the changes in the wording over the cup from “for all” to “for many” was problematic for me as in English the word “many” is not inclusive of all. I further explained I noticed when he says Mass in Italian, he says “per tutti”, which is “for all”. So I asked “Did Jesus die for all Italian speaking people but only for many English speaking people?” I haven’t gotten a phone call from him yet nor have I gotten a formal letter of excommunication from the CDF so I have no way of knowing if he received the letter. But, many letters coming in with the same issue might get some notice.

  9. I know I’m whistling in the dark, but most of the comments don’t get the point that the two issues — translation/style and conference primacy must be addressed separately to open a meaningful conversation. Rome is beyond frustrated with the “political” bickering hiding behind serious concerns. If there are (and there are) serious issues with the translation they should be addressed SEPARATELY from the conference primacy issue(s). Until the conferences are willing to address serious issues in a manner that Rome will accept, we will be given directed results like the current translation.

  10. Paul Inwood The idea of a new Lectionary is still alive, but in a somewhat limbotic state at present.


    Here we see the real problem with the recent translation. Priests who use the language day in and day out will start speaking in bizarre and unexpected ways. 🙂

  11. This is my first comment here.

    My Bias:
    I am a Catholic seeking to be faithful to Church Teaching. I’m wondering if such as me are allowed free comment.

    I like the new translation of the Mass, primarily because it is an accurate representation of the Church’s thinking.

    I have found that with time one grows used to it.

  12. Let’s see what happens is right especially since A. Roche’s boss, Cardinal Cañizares Llovera had an interview with Francis on Saturday.

  13. I applaud those above who have suggested we continue to hope for a revision or replacement of the troubled translation and work toward that goal.

    Pope Francis on faith, to pilgrims:

    “…Do not allow yourself to be discouraged by losers or the fearful who would take your dream away, who want to imprison you in their dark mentalities instead of letting you fly in the light of hope! Please, do not fall into mediocrity, that mediocrity that diminishes and makes everything grey. Life is not grey, life is for putting at stake for great ideas and great things!”

  14. While it is just not right to keep spending the money of God’s Holy People on flawed tools. . . .tools we cannot ‘take back’ when they do not work properly. . . .we need to remember clearly that the new Roman Missal by which so many of us ‘feel cheated’ is merely a tool, a book to describe and provide the prayers and rituals for the community celebration of the Eucharist. It is not ‘divine revelation’ but ‘the work of human hands ‘. It is not the Eucharist. . .it is an expensive tool with flawed parts.

    As one reader above suggested we DO have a legitimately approved text in the 1998 Missal approved by the sixteen English speaking Episcopal Conferences thru-out the world. That in itself is quite a feat! We must also remember that the Church /Vatican did give the Bishops’ Conferences world-wide the prime competence for selecting, approving and authorizing liturgical texts. Many readers will know the exact documents, details, etc of this profound decision and authorization for/of the 1998 Roman Missal. . .off-hand rejected by some non-English speaking, maybe even self-appointed experts.

    Would the use of the 1998 Roman Missal fall under the category of “ecclesiastical civil disobedience”? Or what else?
    ~ gerald

  15. I am sure there are a large number of priests who would be willing to use the texts from the 1998 RM if it were available in an accessible form. I have downloaded these texts but they are in a format which is difficult to use very readily. The collects from that Missal are available in a little volume published in the UK. They are greatly superior to the 2011 version and arguably a small improvement on the 1973. I never had a problem with the latter and am glad that I still have a couple of relatively new sacramentarys in my possession. For study purpose only of course.

  16. One of the great defects of many of our clergy over the recent decades has been their failure to catechise. Unfortunately their comments here demonstrate it.

    Instead of moaning over a translation their first act should be to explain the Holy Mass and promote adoration of the Eucharist.

  17. Can it be said that we catechize daily whenever we celebrate and offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and spend time in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament reserved for the Sick and for our private prayer? The personal effort we make to celebrate/pray well, clearly, lovingly, with dignity and how we lead and inspire the People of God committed to our care. . .not only in actual ritual but also in the manner in which we love and are available to them.
    All this, too, is catechesis.
    ~~ cordially, Gerald

  18. Another point please.
    “Autre foi” as the French say: “A little time back. . .” we had a Prayer over the Gifts which caught me off-guard, I just stood there a bit. . . looking at the text I had just “recited”.
    I do not have the text at hand. The substance of that prayer was: “. . ..what we celebrate now in signs may we someday celebrate in reality.”

    HELLO?????? Unless I have desperately slipped all these years, that, dear Friends, is not the teaching of the Catholic Church. What we do now is “reality”.
    Now I know enough about ‘dancing around issues’ and can swiggle and swaggle all over about words and meanings. The meaning conveyed by those words in English ‘translated’ by non-English-speaking ‘experts’ is just not correct theology.
    Anyone up for a little heresy trial? ho ho ho

    See why some of us moan, groan and look around?
    ~~ cordially, Gerald

    1. @fr Gerald Ragis – comment #27:

      Alas, as I have said in this forum before, they were not non-English-speaking. On the contrary, they were all native English speakers, which makes the whole thing even more shameful. Of course I agree that they were about as far from experts as it is possible to be.

  19. Re #26.
    OMYYYY! “Native English Speakers”!!!

    Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. I had thought, in holy charity, of course, they didn’t know/use the English language! From what iceberg in South Antartica did these people emerge . . .?

    We have been foiled, literally. Duped. Robbed. How dare they and the “horses” who engaged them. No authorization from the various English-speaking Bishops’ Conference!

    An unjust law does not bind! A law or position not generally approved and accepted by the People of God [“fontes revelationis”. . . sentire cum Ecclesia. . ] does not obligate the People of God. And, the clergy are an integral part of the People of God, the Church, I am sure you’ve noticed.

    For my own education where can I find the fable or history of this translation of the Roman Missal 3? Anyone know? I want to have some ready facts before I speak again on this Missal. I do intend to speak again.
    Thank you. ~~ gerald

    p.s. Did anyone notice the Postcommunion Prayer for today’s Mass of St Barnabas? Somewhat similar to the Prayer-over-gifts earlier today, but not as “erroneous”?

  20. @Fr Gerald Ragis (#27): do you mean this prayer, Father?

    May your Sacraments, O Lord, we pray,
    perfect in us what lies within them,
    that what we now celebrate in signs
    we may one day possess in truth.
    Through Christ our Lord.

    (30th Sun per annum, postcom.)

    Latin text: Perficiant in nobis, Domine, quaesumus, tua sacramenta quod continent, ut, quae nunc specie gerimus, rerum veritate capiamus. Per Christum. With the exception of the doxology, this text has been taken unaltered from Ember Saturday in September in the 1570 Roman Missal (and earlier editions).

    I can’t find a super oblata prayer that fits your description, and the prayer above is the closest I could find among the other prayers of the 2011 English translation. There is no prayer in the English that has the words “celebrate” and “reality” in close proximity to one another. Moreover, I’m struggling to find anything in the prayer that is contrary to Catholic dogma and belief.

    It seems decidedly unfair to criticise the 2011 English translation for something that is not actually in it! If you could cite the “erroneous” text, that would be helpful – but perhaps you just misinterpreted/misremembered it?

    1. @Matthew Hazell – comment #30:

      Fr Ragis gave you his objection “What we do now is “reality”.” The heresy is in implying that the possession in truth will be “one day” and not “now.”

      I’m not going to claim any great knowledge of Latin, but I cannot see where “one day” comes from in the Latin. Would a better translation be “May we grasp the truth of what we now celebrate in signs”? The verbs seem parallel, and both present tense, in the Latin, so the “now…one day” contrast, while attractive, doesn’t seem to be in the Latin.

      Perhaps there is a reason for saying “one day” that someone with a better knowledge of Latin will provide.

  21. Why is it so difficult to separate the translation/style issues from the politics of episcopal conference primacy? Until we can debate this two issues separately, we will receive directed governance!

  22. JIM. . thanks you for “coming to the rescue”:! That is exactly what I am trying to say. and you say it very well!
    I am also grateful for your reply because I am not able to reply in kind to Matthew as I do not have the access to the many items he brings up. . and he deserves a better reply than I can now do.

    Thank you Jim and Matthew.

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