Pope Francis Corrects Cardinal Sarah on Translation

Pope Francis has sent a letter to Cardinal Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship (CDW), correcting his misunderstandings of the recent motu proprio “Magnum Principium.”  Cardinal Sarah published an article in the French journal L’Homme Nouveau, as Pray Tell reported, arguing for a maximal ongoing role for the CDW and continuity with previous norms. He also wrote a letter to Pope Francis.

(Pray Tell first reported on Francis’s groundbreaking motu proprio here. Rita Ferrone uncovered similarities between the motu proprio and the 1969 Vatican instruction on translation in this Commonweal piece.)

In the controversial 2001 document Liturgiam authenticam  (LA), the Holy See contravened the Second Vatican Council by giving itself the right to grant the recognitio  to liturgical translations and to impose translations upon episcopal conferences. The 2011 English Missal  was an example of such imposition – after the English-speaking episcopal conferences submitted their translations to the CDW, in a process which for its part was micromanaged by the CDW, the conferences received back a different text that had over 10,000 changes from their submission.

Pope Francis is making it abundantly clear that this is no longer to happen. The 2011 English Missal  would not have been issued in its present translation on Pope Francis’s watch, it is safe to say.

The pope’s letter to Cardinal Sarah is quite strongly worded. He makes it clear that there is a difference between confirmatio  and recognitio. Only the former is the the right of the Holy See, and it is not interchangeable with the recognitio  it previously granted. The pope says that he wishes to “abolish the practice adopted by your dicastery [i.e., office – ed.] following Liturgiam authenticam”  in this regard.

The authority of LA is clearly restricted by the pope’s recent motu proprio. It is no longer the case that “translations must conform in all points to the norms of Liturgiam authenticam.”  Pope Francis writes that “individual numbers of Liturgiam authenticam  must be carefully reconceived, including nos. 79-84.”  The passages cited are those dealing with the responsibilities of episcopal conferences and of Rome. The wording (“including”) suggests that the reconception the pope calls for includes but is not necessarily limited to those six articles of LA.

In a weighty passage which seems to cast LA in a new light, the pope writes that fideliter  (“faithfully”) in his motu proprio “implies a threefold fidelity: in primis,  to the original text; then to the particular language in which it is translated, and finally to the comprehension of the text by the recipients.” Although there are passages in LA mentioning all of these concerns, the pope’s clear wording, with the second and third elements being the receptor language and its comprehension, shifts the emphasis away from an undue emphasis on the first element (the original Latin text) at the expense of the other two.

Here’s an interesting wrinkle: how is “in primis” to be understood? Is it simply the first in a list of three items? Or is it the most important of the three? “In primis” in Latin is generally held to mean “above all.” But this term is translated as “firstly” in the 2011 English Missal  in the Roman Canon: “which we offer you firstly…for your holy catholic Church…” Defenders of LA and of the 2011 Roman Missal  may ironically be stuck having to say that faithfulness to the original text is simply one concern, not the most important, because the CDW blew it on this point in its supposedly strict application of LA.

Here’s another interesting wrinkle. The pope writes in his letter that the Commentaire, presumably a reference to the article by Cardinal Sarah in the French magazine, was erroneously attributed to Sarah. Are we to understand that Cardinal Sarah did not write that widely-discussed article, though he has not said this publicly since its publication?

Pray Tell  offers a translation of the Italian text:

Vatican City, October 15, 2017
To His Eminence the Most Reverend
Cardinal Robert SARAH
Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship
and the Discipline of the Sacraments
Vatican City

 Your Eminence,

I received your letter of September 30, in which you wished to express your gratitude for the publication of Motu Proprio Magnum Principium and to send me a note of elaboration on it, Commentaire, striving for a better understanding of the text.

In expressing my thanks for the commitment and the contribution, I would simply like to express, and I hope clearly, some observations on this note that I consider to be important especially for the proper application and understanding of the Motu Proprio and to avoid any misunderstanding.

First of all, it is important to point out the importance of the clear difference that the new Motu Proprio establishes between recognitio and confirmatio, well established in articles 2 and 3 of canon 838, in order to abolish the practice adopted by your dicastery following Liturgiam authenticam (LA) which the new Motu Proprio intended to change. We cannot therefore say that recognitio and confirmatio are “strictly synonymous (or) are interchangeable” or that “they are interchangeable at the level of responsibility of the Holy See.”

In fact the new canon 838, through the distinction between recognitio and confirmatio, asserts the changed responsibility of the Apostolic See in the exercise of these two actions, as well as that of the episcopal conferences. Magnum Principium no longer argues that translations must conform in all points to the norms of Liturgiam authenticam, as was previously the case. For this reason, individual numbers of Liturgiam authenticam must be carefully reconceived, including nos. 79-84, in order to distinguish what is required by the code for translation and what is required for legitimate adaptations. It is therefore clear that some of Liturgiam authenticam’s numbers have been abrogated or are taken up into the terms in which they were reformulated by the Motu Proprio’s new canon (eg. no. 76 and also no. 80).

On the responsibility of the bishops’ conferences to translate “fideliter,” it should be pointed out that the judgment of fidelity to Latin and any necessary corrections had been the task of the dicastery, but now the norm grants to episcopal conferences the right to judge the quality (bontà) and consistency between one term and another in the translation from the original, even if this is in dialogue with the Holy See. Confirmatio no longer supposes a detailed word-by-word examination, except in the obvious cases that can be brought to the bishops for their further reflection. This applies in particular to the relevant formulas, such as the Eucharistic Prayers and in particular the sacramental formulas approved by the Holy Father. Confirmatio also takes into account the integrity of the book, that is, verifying that all components that make up the typical edition have been translated (1).

Here it can be added that, in the light of the motu proprio, “fideliter” of § 3 of the canon implies a threefold fidelity: in primis, to the original text; then to the particular language in which it is translated, and finally to the comprehension of the text by the recipients (see Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani nos. 391-392).

In this sense, recognitio only indicates verification and preservation of conformity to the law and communion of the Church. The process of translating relevant liturgical texts (eg. sacramental formulas, the Credo, the Pater Noster) into a language – from which they are considered authentic translations – should not lead to a spirit of “imposition” upon the episcopal conferences of a given translation made by the dicastery, as this would undermine the right of the bishops sanctioned in the canon and, already prior to that, Sacrosanctum Concilium 36 § 4. Moreover, let us recall the analogy with canon 825 § 1 concerning the version of Sacred Scripture, which does not require confirmatio by the Apostolic See.

It is mistaken to attribute to confirmatio the purpose of recognitio (i.e. to “verify and safeguard compliance with law”). Of course, confirmatio is not merely formal, but necessary for publication of the translated liturgical book: it is granted after the version has been submitted to the Apostolic See for the ratification of the bishops’ approval in a spirit of dialogue and aid to reflection, if and when necessary, respecting their rights and duties, considering the legality of the process followed and its various aspects (2).

Finally, Your Eminence, I reiterate my fraternal gratitude for your commitment and note that the Commentaire which has been published on some websites, and erroneously attributed to you, I kindly ask you to provide this response to the same sites, and also to send it to all episcopal conferences, and the members and consultors of your dicastery.



(1) Magnum Principium:  The goal of the translation of liturgical texts and of biblical texts for the Liturgy of the Word is to announce the word of salvation to the faithful in obedience to the faith and to express the prayer of the Church to the Lord. For this purpose it is necessary to communicate to a given people using its own language all that the Church intended to communicate to other people through the Latin language. While fidelity cannot always be judged by individual words but must be sought in the context of the whole communicative act and according to its literary genre, nevertheless some particular terms must also be considered in the context of the entire Catholic faith because each translation of texts must be congruent with sound doctrine.”

(2) Magnum Principium: “Without doubt, attention must be paid to the benefit and good of the faithful, nor must the right and duty of episcopal conferences be forgotten who, together with episcopal conferences from regions sharing the same language and with the Apostolic See, must ensure and establish that, while the character of each language is safeguarded, the sense of the original text is fully and faithfully rendered and that even after adaptations the translated liturgical books always illuminate the unity of the Roman Rite.”



  1. “In the controversial 2001 document Liturgiam authenticam (LA), the Holy See contravened the Second Vatican Council”

    Father Ruff, is not the epithet “controversial” an editorializing remark? Would you call “Comme le prévoit” “controversial”? “Magnum principium”?

    Also, is not “contravened the Second Vatican Council” a bit strongly worded? Your articles seem relentlessly to push the idea that those with whom you disagree are somehow all in contravention of Vatican II.

    I realize this is a blog post and not a scholarly article, but perhaps a bit more balance is a virtue?

    1. Nope.

      We get to publish our opinions and our convictions at our blog, Lee. You can start your own blog and publish whatever you want at it.

      What you can’t keep doing is complaining at Pray Tell about Pray Tell.

      Further comments in this vein will be deleted.


      1. Thanks for that, Father Ruff!

        If Mr. Fratantuono and his lot have something new to say, I’m sure you’d post it and the Pray Tell community would engage it. But I’m glad you’re deleting comments that say the same thing over and over. Pray Tell is a more sane place than a few years ago! I like the range of opinions at the blog and learn a lot from it.


      2. You might want to revisit your comment about the English translation of “in primis”. While I would prefer something like “first and foremost”, “firstly” is not a “mistranslation,” as you call it. It might not be felicitous; it might not be poetic; it might not be ideal…but it is most certainly not a “mistranslation.”

      3. I agree with you, “first and foremost” would be better. As to whether the missal is infelicitous or mistaken – I think this discussion shows that translation is never an exact science, it is an art, and there will always be more than one view about it. It’d be good for all of us to keep this in mind whenever we speak about translation “accuracy.” For all that, I changed “mistranslation” to “translation” in my post in response to your point.

  2. I’m curious what people thought of the following:

    Confirmatio no longer supposes a detailed word-by-word examination, except in the obvious cases that can be brought to the bishops for their further reflection. This applies in particular to the relevant formulas, such as the Eucharistic Prayers and in particular the sacramental formulas approved by the Holy Father.

    I’m not actually sure what this is saying. Is it saying that the CDW has a more active role in reviewing the translation of sacramental formulae and would be within its rights to ask the bishops to review their translation of them (i.e that they are one of the “obvious cases”)? Or is it saying that the sacramental formulae are not excluded from the principle that Confirmatio does not require word-for-word examination? I think it means the former, but am not sure.

    1. Because this concerns the Eucharistic Prayers I am relatively certain it means that the conferences have the freedom to translate meaning rather than words. Here’s why. This is the locus of the controversial “pro multis.” I am almost 100% certain that Pope Francis will not demand it be translated “for many” as Pope Benedict did. I am less certain, but also hold it as possible, that the Holy Father doesn’t want to condemn us to an eternity of “chalice” where “cup” communicates better what the prayer, in its context, means to say.

      1. In that vein, what are your thoughts on “astare” (EPII)? How do other translations approach this one?

      2. Responding to Bryan Walsh’s query: here’s a quote from a Chrism Mass homily given by Pope Benedict XVI:

        The Second Canon of our Missal, which was probably compiled in Rome already at the end of the second century, describes the essence of the priestly ministry with the words with which, in the Book of Deuteronomy (18: 5, 7), the essence of the Old Testament priesthood is described: astare coram te et tibi ministrare [“to stand and minister in the name of the Lord”]. …

        In the tradition of Syrian monasticism, monks were qualified as “those who remained standing”. This standing was an expression of vigilance. What was considered here as a duty of the monks, we can rightly see also as an expression of the priestly mission and as a correct interpretation of the word of Deuteronomy: the priest must be on the watch. He must be on his guard in the face of the imminent powers of evil.

        He must keep the world awake for God. He must be the one who remains standing: upright before the trends of time. Upright in truth. Upright in the commitment for good. Being before the Lord must always also include, at its depths, responsibility for humanity to the Lord, who in his turn takes on the burden of all of us to the Father. And it must be a taking on of him, of Christ, of his word, his truth, his love. The priest must be upright, fearless and prepared to sustain even offences for the Lord, as referred to in the Acts of the Apostles: they were “rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonour for the name” (5: 41) of Jesus.

        Even though this was given at a Chrism Mass, I trust the Pope Emeritus would agree that the call to be vigilant, fearless, and upright, to remain standing, applies to every Christian, not just to the ordained.

    2. View from the Pew
      Regarding: “Confirmatio no longer supposes a detailed word-by-word examination, except in the obvious cases that can be brought to the bishops for their further reflection.”
      – Perhaps this is a fail safe should an episcopal conference go off and leave everyone behind.

  3. I had the same question, Fritz. I also suspect it means the former, but the words literally seem to mean the latter. It would be interesting to know.

  4. I had the same question Fritz raised — and noted that “brought to the bishops for their further reflection” is different from “imposed a translation upon the bishops” — non dovrebbe portare ad uno spirito di “imposizione” alle Conferenze Episcopali di una data traduzione fatta dal Dicastero.

    I also wonder about that Commentaire. Is this the article that Cardinal Sarah published in L’Homme Nouveau? Pope Francis says that it was “erroneously attributed” to the Cardinal. Does this mean that Cardinal Sarah didn’t actually write it? Or is Pope Francis trying to be polite, saying, in essence, “since I am sure that you couldn’t possibly have written such an erroneous interpretation of Magnum Principium, someone else must have done it; so please correct the mistake of the unnamed someone.”

  5. It really seems as though Cardinal Sarah is getting the same treatment as the other Cardinals who have dared to question Pope Francis… the Holy Father appears to have as much need for a prefect of the CDW as he had for the one at the CDF or of the Signatura. One wonders if Cdl. Sarah will have the good grace to resign forthwith… or whether the Pope will sack him, or leave him marginalized (on the periphery?), twisting slowly in the ‘vento Romano’… so much for “dialogue”!
    Meanwhile there is “the dog that did not bark” in the persons of all of those who were so vocal in their criticisms of Pope Benedict for “not being a ‘liturgist’ ” despite his obvious knowledge of and love for the liturgy… his successor on the Throne of Peter makes no pretense to either and yet not a peep from the liturgical establishment about his qualifications or motivations.
    Does he bear any responsibility for any of the present disquiet in the Church?

    1. I can only speak for myself, but I support Pope Francis because, quite apart from whether he’s bothered with the writings of the liturgical establishment, he “gets” the liturgy like very few people I know – including me, to be honest.

      The liturgy isn’t about liturgy. Nor is it about music – including the organ music and Latin chant and choral music I so dearly love. Nor is it about sacramental theology. Nor is it about building up the Church. (Those things all have their place, of course.)

      The liturgy is about the Reign of God. This is the central preoccupation of all Jesus’ teaching and healing. This is to be the central concern of all of us, as we work for the transformation of the entire world into which the Reign of God is breaking.

      It seems to me that Pope Francis gets this. In that sense, he’s the most liturgical of popes!


  6. Well, I guess that’s a point of view… I’m trying very hard to support Pope Francis myself but the whole package is very worrisome to me, and the apparent slapdown of Cdl. Sarah continues in the same vein: “Dialogue… but if I don’t like what you’re saying I’ll freeze you out”. “Mercy… but not for those who disagree with my novelties”. Canonize one predecessor and praise another, but oppose their magisterium as no pope in living memory has done… but I guess it’s OK if one agrees with the results. There are many Americans who feel the same way about their president…

    1. Wait a minute, Earnie. I think you are misunderstanding some of the essential facts that are relevant here.

      The situation with Sarah is not about dialogue. It’s Sarah’s job to present fairly what the Pope has said in his motu proprio, and to interpret it correctly so that others can understand it according to what Pope Francis actually said and intended. Sarah didn’t do this, so Francis corrected him. Sarah is not appointed to rule on liturgical questions his own, or to advance his personal opinions if they are opposed to the Pope’s. He is appointed as part of the Pope’s cabinet to assist the Pope. How can he do this if he misrepresents the Pope?

      As for “novelties,” the Pope has explained (with chapter and verse) where and how his decision is based in Sacrosanctum Concilium, the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy. It’s simply not a novelty. If anything was a novelty it was having the CDW micromanage the translation process, as Liturgiam authenticam directed. Same goes for what you are concerned about, re: the magisterium of his predecessors. I think you are underestimating the continuity between Francis and his predecessors, which is considerable. No pope is expected to be a carbon copy of the one before him.

      I wonder if you have absorbed some false impressions about what Francis is actually doing, and this is causing you to be concerned.

    2. If anything was a novelty it was giving Rome power and responsibility to edit translations word-by-word. Arguably that was a necessary corrective given the severe deficiency of both ICEL’s translation of the rite of ordination and their 1998 translation of the Mass. But like all correctives it should not go on forever, and this one could not without betraying Vatican II ecclesiology or impeding the development of translations improving on 2011’s.

      The only change here appears to be in the role of the CDW. If one suspects we’re going back to 1998 and “for us and for salvation”, “May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands, for the praise and glory of God’s name”, missing Mea culpas and memorial acclamations, etc. , this suspicion can’t be based on anything Pope Francis has said.

      Nevermind that some of those cheering for this change advocate non-faithful translations of the rite. You can’t choose your fans. Let’s give the Holy Father the benefit of the doubt.

  7. I agree with Anthony and Rita. But the case is far simpler.

    Cardinal Sarah claimed to be explaining the “mens” of the legislator — a word that could be translated “legislative intent”. In effect he is saying, “Here is what Pope Francis intended in the norms set out in Magnum Principium.”

    And Pope Francis wrote back: no, that’s not what I had in mind.

    You can argue with the content of Magnum Principium, or about Pope Francis’s formal qualifications as a liturgical scholar, etc.

    But it’s tough to argue that Pope Francis didn’t know what he meant to say.

    I have to wonder whether Cardinal Sarah might have checked with the pope before publishing an explanation of his motu proprio. This, also, would have been an occasion for dialogue.

    1. I do think that it is worth pointing out that in this discussion that the final paragraph of Pope Francis’ letter is important:

      “Finally, Your Eminence, I reiterate my fraternal gratitude for your commitment and note that the Commentaire which has been published on some websites, and erroneously attributed to you, I kindly ask you to provide this response to the same sites, and also to send it to all episcopal conferences, and the members and consultors of your dicastery.”

      It is true that Cardinal Sarah has been corrected by Pope Francis in the past, but that does not seem to be the case here. This Commentaire has been erroneously attributed to Cardinal Sarah, which Pope Francis acknowledges.

      1. “This Commentaire has been erroneously attributed to Cardinal Sarah, which Pope Francis acknowledges.”

        I also thought that was a very interesting little note by the Holy Father. Until I read it, I hadn’t heard that Sarah’s authorship of the article was disputed. One would think the cardinal would be speaking out indignantly if the content of the article was misattributed. So I am not sure what to make of Francis’s remark, unless it’s a particularly passive-aggressive form of exquisite Roman courtesy, along the lines of, ‘that article missed the mark so badly, I am sure you could not be the author of it.’

    2. If Cardinal Sarah has misinterpreted the Motu Proprio, the Pope has the right to correct him. After all, he is the Pope.

  8. Mr. Bay – on your liturgical scholarship point – Benedict vs. Francis. IMO, Francis is not focused on his own interpretation – rather, he has and is depending upon the input and advice of liturgical experts. In addition, much of what he has pronounced on liturgy (and is not that much) is very consistent with VII.
    Contrast that with Benedict – he pronounced using his own personal interpretation (some would say idiosyncracies) – he did not interpret or rely upon liturgical experts and he named folks that had no expertise in liturgy (e.g. Sarah) – rather, they sympathized his pieties, etc. (think his Benedict altar arrangement – please try to find support for that from VII?)
    Finally, one other significant difference – Francis was ordained after VII – first pope who is truly VII. The same can not be said of Benedict. In terms of day in and day out liturgy style, that is a significant difference.

    1. What a grotesque over-simplification. Might it be too much trouble to at least get certain facts straight? Pope Francis appointed Cardinal Sarah as Prefect of the CDW, not Pope Benedict.

      And last I checked, Pope Benedict actually, you know, attended Vatican II.

      1. Note: attending Vatican II does not necessarily mean that one accepts all of it now, or that one has the correct interpretation of it. LeFebvre attended Vatican II but later rejected it.

        If you wish to defend Pope Benedict’s interpretation of V2, do it on the basic of substance, that the fact that he attended. That’s no argument.


      2. “If you wish to defend Pope Benedict’s interpretation of V2, do it on the basic of substance, that the fact that he attended.”

        I was attempting to reject an overly-simplistic juxtaposition while keeping my comment short. My point was not to defend Benedict XVI’s interpretation of liturgical theology or the liturgical renewal post-Vatican II, but simply to point out that painting Pope Francis as the embodiment of Vatican II over-against Pope Benedict not only does an injustice to the admittedly complex nature of Pope Benedict’s entire career, but does very little to over-come the all-too-common either/or polarization that increasingly filters every theological argument. I think elements of Benedict’s reaction rightly come in for criticism, and his attendance at the Council does not immunize him from criticism; but the simplistic juxtaposition of the comment posits a hyper-polarized lens of evaluation.

      3. Mr. DeCuir – stand by what I stated. Nowhere in my comments did I talk about Sarah being appointed by Francis (so, how did I get my facts wrong? You appear to make things up to fit your whims). What difference does that make to the points I made?

        From R. Mickens – https://www.ncronline.org/blogs/roman-observer/que-sera-sarah

        Key paragraph:
        “In fact, he appointed Cardinal Sarah to his current job precisely in order to keep the peace with the neo-Tridentinists — a small, but well-organized, well-funded and extremely vocal group that gained prominence disproportionate to its numbers under Benedict XVI. It has been lukewarm (to say the least!) towards the current pope. After Pope Francis moved the previous CDW prefect, Cardinal Antonio Cañizares, back to a diocese in Spain, the top post at the worship office remained vacant for nearly three months — an unprecedented amount of time in that office’s history.”

        Yep, only Micken’s opinion and interpretation but I will go with his approach over yours any day.
        Things I left out above (whomever appointed Sarah to the post):
        – Francis has now publicly repudiated Sarah at least twice; if not multiple times – the other occasion was Sarah’s idiosyncratic *must face East* opinion
        – Sarah was outspoken (Mickens uses *shrill*) in the two synods against same sex marriage; abortion; contraception; divorce/remarriage,etc.
        – the supposed commission Francis asked him to set up to do filial correction on the liturgy
        – Or last year’s Nat’l Prayer Breakfast – the Vatican’s liturgical chief said there were “insidious signs of war” against religious freedom in the United States and equated same sex marriage legalization with beheadings, torching orphanages, etc.

        So, who used the *grotesque over-simplification* and cherry picked one point and then over-generalized rather than make an actual argument?

      4. Dear Ben and Bill, (and everyone!)
        Please keep your tone respectful if you wish to comment here. Thank the other for their comment, and gently correct them if something is mistaken. There’s no need to fight, and to delight in finding fault in another. We’re all on the same side, striving toward the truth together. This isn’t a fight.

  9. Interesting that Benedict XVI still adheres to the line about EP2 being the oldest. We all used to think this at one time. Perhaps it was one way that we were persuaded to use it !

    The fragments of the Anaphora of the ‘Apostolic Tradition’ (now considered to be a composite, not all Roman, not by anyone called Hippolytus, almost certainly not all, or any part of it, of the Second Century AD) that were used in the compilation of EP 2 are largely in the Preface and the text that comes after the ‘Mystery of faith.’ It’s not the whole prayer.

    Louis Bouyer is very unflattering about this text in his memoirs. If I recall correctly, he says that it was the work of Dom Bernard Botte OSB ‘on the back of an envelope’ outside a cafe in Paris one day.

    As to ‘adstare’ to translate it as ‘to be’ is lame. It ignores a biblical echo from Daniel 7 (I think) and begs the question: to be … what? in your presence. There is an instance of the same thing in EP4 about the Angels, too, where the issue is dodged.


  10. Perhaps I was unclear – one need not be a papal positivist to agree that the pope – any pope – has the last word and is entitled to correct his subordinates. My references to “dialogue” and “novelties” refer respectively to his *refusal* to “dialogue” with senior churchmen who seem to have legitimate warrant (per Scripture and the unchanging teachings of his predecessors) for questioning the specifics of e.g. “Amoris Laetitia”; and the “novelties” in his theology which are becoming so worrisome to many Catholics – clerical and lay alike..
    My comment was directed at the pattern and the tone of the Holy Father’s responses to these situations.
    I may well have absorbed some false impressions about what Pope Francis is actually doing, but I am not an uninformed man – not do I work in an echo chamber – and I find that a great number of Catholics share my impressions. Perhaps some respected figure in the Church could ask the Pope to clarify these matters for the benighted and the perplexed (and the worried…)

    1. “My references to “dialogue” and “novelties” refer respectively to his *refusal* to “dialogue” with senior churchmen …”

      A curious observation, though I’ve seen it often. Compared to the previous two popes, Pope Francis strikes me as a good bit more open to dialogue. The 2015 synod had quite a bit of dialogue and, if memory serves, many of those “senior churchmen” were present and involved in the event.

      Maybe Pope Francis has a number of sc’s who dialogue with him on any number of informal occasions in the Vatican. So we’re not privy to such things. Maybe those discussions and the ones at the synod have reached a point where PF smiles and nods. We’ve already had a synod. We’ve already had a post-synodal document. People applying chapter 8 and the footnote aren’t in the Vatican anymore. They are pastors of parishes.

      One example, liturgical. My pastor and I would like the psalm will be proclaimed from the ambo. I call a cantor meeting, and we talk it out. They listen to my presentation on liturgy. I listen to their concerns. One person* says, “I feel uncomfortable bowing to the altar with my butt facing the congregation.” But everyone agrees to a new procedure they help design. There are a few skeptics who are willing to try. But one resists and continues to do so. Don’t bow, I say, just nod your head reverently and slowly. You have to bow, the person says. Go around the back of the sanctuary and come out the other side, I suggest. People will wonder what I’m dong back there, I hear. We need to have another meeting, I hear. When I reassign the person to be the songleader/psalmist at baptisms outside of Mass, I’m told I’m punishing the person for being outspoken. At some point, this dialogue has become a one way street. My reluctant cantor wants to preach and be heard. I say prima donna, others say dubia cardinals.

      * real reason given long ago in a parish where I served

      1. Maybe indeed.
        You’re probably not inclined to agree with someone who is gravely concerned about the demeanor and direction of the current pope, but consider the leader of a worldwide enterprise who not only refuses to receive certain of his collaborators and “direct reports” at all, but cancels meetings with the entire “Board of Directors” i.e. College of Cardinals (reportedly) lest he be pinned-down by them on one point or another. Not normal.
        I am aching to hear Pope Francis vindicate his (apparent) positions in light of Scripture and Sacred Tradition – but something a bit stronger, if you please, than “as we’ve said before…” and “so as you can see, this really is in full conformity with the previous position…” from noble Austrian cardinals or divers Jesuits. If I may say so, it almost sounds Anglican! Alas, most adults have been able to see straight through such demurrals since primary school.
        Presuming he has truth and infallibility on his side, let’s hear it specifically and directly: teach, govern, and confirm the brethren!

        p.s. – I am quite sorry to hear about your colleague’s dilemma regarding his “butt”… been there, I’ve discovered that a genuflection is much less immodest in that regard… also a cassock truly does hide a multitude of (gustatory) sins 😉

      2. Thank you for your reply, Earnie. Regarding your wish Pope Francis would buttress his position from Scripture and Tradition, I would direct you to his interpretation of 1 Corinthians 11:17-34 in a larger and original context in AL 185-186.

        By the way, my cantor, who was female, had indeed enough liturgical savvy to bow to the altar, genuflect to the tabernacle. There was no tabernacle on her route. My example was more about the persistence of some people when it is less theological and more personal. Pope Francis and other church leaders were part of two meetings for this synod. The dubia cardinals doubtless had many opportunities to speak with their colleagues, including Pope Francis. Not to discredit the recent interpretation of adultery and reception of the sacraments, but for extreme cases, it has not been an exclusive stance of the Church through history.

  11. Stand corrected, Fr. Anthony although I can not figure out who Ben is in the Ben and Bill??? And, really, all I did was copy and paste his last sentence and repeated it.

    Mr. DeCuir – reread what I posted and unfortunately I did not separate my thoughts well. Benedict picked Sarah out in the curia and named him.

    The sentence I wrote does imply that Benedict appointed Sarah over liturgy – I was thinking really that Benedict picked and elevated Sarah to be in the curia and hold Vatican posts and then I was also thinking of this link – http://www.ncregister.com/blog/edward-pentin/benedict-xvi-the-liturgy-is-in-good-hands-with-cardinal-sarah – a printed statement of Sarah support by Benedict.

    1. I appreciate your clarification. Benedict has been influential in the careers of many people, among them strong allies of Pope Francis such as Cardinals Christoph Schonborn, Reinhard Marx, & Joseph Tobin. Gratefully God doesn’t write in straight lines.

      I have no interest in defending Sarah; frankly, I think Pope Francis is making a mistake in keeping him on. He is being ill-served by him, & at this point Sarah seems intent on making the most of out being the fly in the anointment. Francis is not going to placate the traditionalists by keeping Sarah around, & doing so will only serve to amplify Sarah’s antics.

  12. Edward Pentin, a well-known Vatican reporter, has uploaded the commentary to Scribd, here:


    Thanks to Rorate Caeli for the link.

    Pentin attributes the document to Cardinal Sarah. It is (apparently) signed by Cardinal Sarah.

    I’d like to assume that this is not buried in several levels of “fake news”, i.e. that the Scribd account really belongs to Edward Pentin and that the attribution to Cardinal Sarah is correct.

    In that case, I’m puzzled by the portrayal of this as a “war” by various websites, including Rorate. The issue is whether Cardinal Sarah correctly interpreted the mens (intent) of the pope, not whether the pope or the cardinal was right in his judgement, or whether et cum spiritu tuo should be translated “and with your spirit”. It has absolutely nothing to do with the dubia, etc., that Earnie persists in commenting on.

    The cardinal is saying: this is what the pope meant. The pope is saying: no, I meant something else.

    How is that a “war”?

    If the two of them had spoken before the Commentary was published, I would be concerned. It doesn’t look as though that was the case.

    If Cardinal Sarah didn’t write that Commentary, he ought to distance himself from it, not only because Pope Francis asked him to do so, but because it’s the right thing to do when someone else’s work is attributed to you.

    1. Many thanks to Jonathan Day for providing a link to an English translation of the article attributed to Cardinal Sarah.

      Having read the article, and re-reading Francis’s letter in light of the article, I can only say that some close textual analysis is needed in order to make complete sense of it all. There is a heck of a term paper opportunity here :-).

      I will note that there is a contradiction, or at least an inconsistency, in Sarah’s article. Paragraph 1 states that “The authoritative text concerning liturgical translations remains the Instruction Liturgiam authenticam (L.A.) of 28 March 2001. Thus, the faithful translations (“ fideliter ”) carried out and approved by Episcopal Conferences must conform in every way to the norms of this Instruction.”. Inasmuch as LA no. 80 gives the Holy See the right to retranslate, presumably this is one of the passages that provoked Francis to respond. Yet in paragraph 5 of his article, Sarah quotes (approvingly) Archbishop Roche’s commentary: “The “confirmatio” of the Apostolic See is therefore not to be considered as an alternative intervention in the process of translation, but rather as an authoritative act by which the competent Dicastery ratifies the approval of the bishops.”

      Francis’s response to the article makes a good deal of the episcopal conferences’ rights and responsibilities granted/clarified by MP; but it’s not immediately clear, reading Sarah’s article, that Sarah has a different view. Obviously, much hinges on the two men’s interpretation of “confirmatio” and “recognitio”.

      1. … and I meant to add to my previous comment: that seeming inconsistency in Sarah’s article may support Francis’s statement that Sarah didn’t author the article, or at least suggests that he is not the sole/primary author. Cardinals and popes, like judges, are known to delegate the drafting of documents that appear over their signature. It seems possible to me that Francis is telegraphing to Sarah, “I know you didn’t write this yourself. Rein in your staff a bit.”

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