Friday, February 4, 2011

Old Priests Reject New Translation

As expected the self-styled the Association of Catholic Priests of Ireland (ACP) have launched their call to the bishops to "postpone" the introduction of the new translation of the Missal - they want it "postponed" for five years.  Now you might wonder why I have put postponed in inverted commas, well if you read their statement you'll see why: in reality they do not want it postponed but discarded altogether so, after consultation with the people (ie them, I presume), a new more vibrant, dare we say "relevant", Mass can be put in place. 

See their views here.   Sarah McDonald of the Catholic News Service has an interesting article on it.  I also got to hear part of an interview on Newstalk with Fr Padraig McCarthy from the group who was talking about the number of words in a sentence in the new translation.  His objections were pretty poor. Fr Vincent Twomey had been on earlier defending the translation pointing out the overall positive aspects. 

The new association's objections were anticipated since the rejection of the new translation now falls in the overall agenda of those who dissent from orthodox Christian teaching and Catholic teachings in particular.  But there is also another reason they reject it: their understanding of the liturgy is different from the Catholic understanding.  Influenced by the secular thought of the sixties and seventies (they are all of that generation), liturgy is mostly a human centred, human focused activity: it is all about the gathered community gathering together to celebrate this gathering.  A ritualistic order of service does not fit into this view of liturgy.  The theology of the meal, which is part of the Church's theology of the Eucharist, overshadows the sacrificial element which is downplayed and even rejected, and so a new translation which heightens our focus on the ritual of the sacrifice is unacceptable.

They seem to be particularly stung by Rome's rejection of the 1998 translation and that the expertise of those experts who produced it was "spurned" - seems to be the usual argument liberals use to keep their agenda in place: reject it and you hurt good people who have worked so hard - I've heard that excuse recently. 

I remember seeing the 1998 translation before it went to Rome - a liturgy professor displayed it proudly for us when in seminary.  Looking at it I knew Rome was going to have a fit and it would be rejected.  They had rewritten the Missal according to their own taste - adding their own prayers: it was not a proper translation at all - but a new Missal.  It was also a massive tome - it seems when they got down to writing their own prayers for the Mass they forgot to stop.  I remember the state the professor was in when news came through Rome had rejected it - he nearly had a heart attack with fury, complaining about those who had no idea about the people in the Church today and no sense of what real liturgy was, and the "good people who worked so hard on it now being hurt and rejected".   Thank God Vox Clara came along and got things back on track.

The new translation is not perfect, but it is a vast improvement on the present one which is inaccurate, banal and even dodgy in places.  The new is more archaic, but that is a positive - trendy translations age very quickly - imagine a Mass written in sixties language:   "Hey dude God, slap me a five" just doesn't do it;  no, "Lord God, grant us your grace" sounds better.  A trendy translation which the ACP wants will quickly become irrelevant, a classical translation, while not this year's slang, will not date.  All the religious traditions recognise this - they conduct their liturgies and worship with a poetic and symbolic language, many of them with a language which is no longer spoken by the masses, because they recognise that while worship is part of every day life it also looks beyond this life, to God and this means ritual action, formal prayer and beauty are essential.  

Another positive about the new translation: it will slow priests down saying Mass.  It might curb the Sprint Mass and reintroduce a little more decorum into prayer.  That can only be a positive.


  1. Sigh. I love the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite. Just sayin'...

  2. Father, I am afraid that priests will continue to use bits of the old with the new, and continue the current practise of 'gender neutralising' the new text. What can a layman do to correct errant priests? If I know about such things as Redemptionis Sacramentum, why do the priests not?

  3. Martin, your complaint is one many lay people, and priests are making today. Thank God for the laity who know the faith and the liturgy and seek to see it celebrated with dignity and according to the norms and directives. What can you do? Well first of all go and speak to the priest and with great gentleness and kindness (priests can be very sensitive about these things) just point out your concerns. If that fails over a time, then contact your local bishop and let him know, again with sensitivity. A respectful letter is best - keep a copy of your letter. You know the documents, so do not be afraid to quote them, but again with tact - do not be too pushy - bishops are also incredibly sensitive. If all that fails, then write to Rome, to the Congregation of Divine Worship and Disciple of Sacraments, explain what the abuses are and that you have spoken with the priest and the bishop and that nothing has been done. Include copies of any correspondance that has taken place. In the meantime pray for priests. They do try to celebrate the liturgy as well as they can, but there are some who think to do this they have to improve on the Mass or make it more relevant. They are acting in good faith, but they are still wrong and must be correctly, but gently.

    H.E. Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera,
    Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of Sacraments,
    Palazzo delle Congregazioni,
    Piazzo Pio XII, 10

  4. Since we know that Fr Kevin Doran looks in at this blog, maybe he could do something about the new Mass texts as part of the Eucharistic Congress preparation? Rediscovering the Eucharist through the new missal, or something to that effect.

  5. Thanks Father for your personal reply. How do you know how serious an abuse needs to be before you do anything about it? Do you think it best to write to your parish priest or see him in person? I'd be a bit intimidated to do it in person.

    The following is a list of the most common abuses in my parish, carried out by the 3 priests. They vary in their abuses. I am worried that the new translation will be an opportunity for these and new abuses to take place.

    - Sanitizing Mass texts to make them 'gender inclusive'.
    - priest giving Holy Communion to Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion before he receives
    - priests (and even the bishop last year) sitting back in the sanctuary whilst lay people distribute Holy Communion
    - priests omitting prayers of the Mass e.g. introductory to the Our Father
    - Replacing the Psalm with a hymn or religious song
    - - Priest inviting people to recite Doxology
    - use of altar girls against the express wishes of Pope John Paul II
    - use of non-precious metal containers for Holy Communion
    - Use of extraordinary ministers of holy Communion in un-extraordinary circumstances
    - EMHC approaching the altar before the priest has received holy Communion, causing a distraction during the Our Father
    - No communion plate used, despite Redemptionis Sacramentum calling for it to be used
    - No Crucifix on centre of altar despite express wishes of Pope Benedict

    I think ignorance is bliss. Before, I had an intuition that much of what took place at Mass was wrong, but now I know!

    What would you do if you were me Father? Do you think I should give my priests a Fr. Z mug? (Say the black, do the red)

  6. I'm sticking my head right above the parapet now Father, but how do you think the average Irish priest would react if a parishioner gave him a copy of Redemptionis Sacramentum? Too subtle? =P

  7. Sorry, guys, but you need to look at the new translation -- it is dreck! We are going to have a huge pastoral problem on our hands. Even the promoters of the new translation ritually tell us it is going to be a "hard sell" (Archbishop Vincent Nichols).

  8. @ Martin,
    Regarding the seriousness of the abuse - you will know. Yes, go to the priest directly and be courteous and do not take offence if he dismisses you. If he gets angry do not lose your cool - be kind and give him time and space to reflect on what you said. Look at the list of abuses and find out which ones are genuine abuses or just sloppiness which has developed through familiarity. Fr Z's directive is the best: read the black, do the red. Hold out on the mugs for a while I think - it might leave a sour taste in the mouth, unless your priest is able to take a joke.

  9. I read a nice suggestion somewhere - rather than talking about the 'New Translation', we refer to it as the 'Corrected Translation'! ;)

  10. Regarding the comment by anonymous above: perhaps, as you claim, the new translation is indeed dreck.

    But at least it is a better class of dreck than the dreck we have been saddled with since 1973.

  11. Here, here Melancholicus!

  12. The new order of Mass is actually very good. There are downloadable PDF files of the order of Mass and sheets for the priest's and people's parts here:

  13. I am always saddened when Christians fail to have a discussion on issues without resorting to personal abuse. It usually means their argument is weak. "By their love you shall know them". Sadly there seems to be hatred and ridicule directed by many bloggers towards those who do not conform to the bloggers idea and opinion of what a Catholic should be. Our Church is catholic with a small c.
    Humility is always good for the soul and an admission that there may be more than one position that is valid might temper ill judged comments of person abuse and derision.

  14. After 7 years, the above screed is a classic example of false prophecy.