ICEL head criticizes Amazon synod

“I, Andrew Raymond Wadsworth, do not wish to belong to the new idolatrous Pachamama Church currently being brought into being,” reads the post on Facebook of the executive director of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy, the National Catholic Reporter reports.

The ICEL director has used sharp language to criticize the synod and events in conjunction with it – “pagan,” “idolatrous,” “sickening,” “devil worship.” Despite his role heading the agency which prepares vernacular liturgical translations for the English-speaking world, Wadsworth is known for holding quite traditionalist liturgical views and has repeatedly spoken favorably of the unreformed preconciliar Latin liturgy.

Pray Tell contributor Rita Ferrone wrote about controversies and misunderstandings surrounding the Amazon synod in a piece at Commonweal,A Hermeneutic of Suspicion.”


  1. Wait. We are calling for someone to be removed because of their social media post which opposes the actions of members of the Church. Isn’t the Church usually criticized for firing people who do such things? Aren’t we supposed to be a people of dialogue?

    1. He is not opposing the ‘actions of (some) members of the Church’. He is opposing the decisions of a lawfully convened synod.

  2. He’s said he can’t go with the direction of the synod, and no suggestion of an opportunity for dialogue. Fair enough, even if I disagree. In any other walk of life this would be seen as a ‘resignation statement’.

    1. A deeper question would be whether any useful purpose is served any longer by ICEL, now that Magnum Principium has returned authority for translations to episcopal conferences. ICEL is still working in accordance with a parody of the principles of Liturgiam Authenticam, and continues to pump out texts that have the effect of damaging the prayer life of the Church.

      1. I like the current English translation of the Mass. It’s vastly preferable to what went before and I hope it remains the English translation for many years to come.

      2. Indeed, the best question. When one accepts a position of authority, certain responsibilities go with it. While Fr. Wadsworth is surely entitled to his opinion, speaking publicly against the synod (the Church) on the basis of fake news is a bridge too far.

  3. “Wadsworth is known for holding quite traditionalist liturgical views and has repeatedly spoken favorably of the unreformed preconciliar Latin liturgy.”

    I chuckled when reading this imagining it was only included for shock value. Like the readers at PrayTell are supposed to lower their opera glasses and monocles, clasp their chests, gasp, and say “well, I never!” Is saying something favorable about the Traditional Mass now a black mark that signals a person is unfit to have a position in the Church? Setting aside his views of the Amazon Synod for a moment, I would hope ICEL and any liturgical commission would include traditionalist voices. After all, the stance of PrayTell is that we are to eventually be forced to abandon the Traditional Latin Mass and be forced to attend the “reformed” Mass exclusively.

    1. The descriptive statements I made of Msgr. Wadsworth are accurate and I stand by them. As to how people react to accurate reporting, that’s their business.

      1. I don’t doubt the statement is accurate. I think the important and unnecessary word was “despite,” as if it was a contradiction or surprise for the head of ICEL to praise the Latin Mass. Add that to your own wildly uncharitable attitude towards traditionalists and the inclusion of that fact certainly comes off as intended as a negative.

        But anyway, it was just a funny observation.

      2. The surprise is not that the General Secretary of ICEL praises the Latin Mass, but that he — the person responsible for our English liturgical texts — has no lived experience of them himself because he only celebrates in the EF in Latin. The same has been true of a number of members of Vox Clara.

      3. As far as I know, Msgr. Wadsworth has celebrated both in so-called Ordinary Form and Extraordinary Form, and I suspect he continues to do both.
        UPDATED 12/10: I’m told that the parish at which Msgr. Wadsworth is associate pastor celebrates five Masses per weekend, all Ordinary Form – 4 in English, 1 in Spanish.

      4. As far as I know, Msgr. Wadsworth has celebrated both in so-called Ordinary Form and Extraordinary Form, and I suspect he continues to do both.

      5. A large number of traditionalists attend/celebrate the OF, so no surprise.

        It’s the anti-EF crowd that has the luxury of criticising a Mass they never attend.

  4. Who is responsible for appointing and removing members of ICEL? If what Paul says is accurate, this is truly outrageous. Yet another reminder of the imposed and problematic translation of 2011. O God, come to our assistance. O lord, make haste to help us.

    1. He was appointed general secretary and executive director of ICEL’s secretariat (staff) in March 2009 by Pope Benedict XVI, succeeding Msgr Bruce Harbert. ICEL itself is made up of a bishop from each participating country.

      FWIW, I am not holding my breath that Pope Francis would be intervening here. As a general matter, he’s taken a more typically Jesuit approach to the liturgy (as compared to, say, a Benedictine-family or Dominican interest in liturgy), with an occasional gesture of interest here or there. I can easily see no major shift by the end of his papacy in matters liturgical, given that we’re coming on 7 years in 3 months’ time.

      1. As far as I know, executive director of ICEL is appointed by the bishops of ICEL and not the pope. Others may have more information on this.

      2. Happy to hear that if it’s true. I was going by the reports found around St Blog’s back at that time, and they were worded as “the Holy See” doing the appointing, rather than the bishops making the selection. Would be nice to see bishops responsible for something…but then again when it comes to ICEL in the Late Unpleasantness, the house of mirrors aspect was, um, notable.

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