Monday, 6 June 2011

Dissent to the New Translation of the Missal - at last

At last voices are being raised as to the nonsense of the new translation.  Thanks to the Association of Catholic Priests in Ireland.  Read their write up from a "Meeting of the Association of Catholic Priests in Portlaoise, June 2nd 2011". or read below.

Meeting of the Association of Catholic Priests in Portlaoise, June 2nd 2011.

The Association of Catholic Priests (ACP) met in Portlaoise on Thursday, June 2nd 2011, to listen to the reflection of its members and other lay people and religious on the new Missal. At a meeting in January the leadership had been asked to meet with the bishops with a view to having the implementation of the New Missal postponed for five years.

Portlaoise Meeting

The June 2nd 2011 meeting which was attended by more than 100 people began at 2.30pm. Fr. Tony Flannery introduced the facilitator Mr. Martin Kennedy. He called on Fr. Seán McDonagh to report on the meeting between a delegation from ACP and the Episcopal Commission for Worship.

Seán stated that a meeting with the Commission for Worship, Pastoral Renewal and Faith Development took place at Maynooth on February 28th 2011. A number of priests from the ACP shared their well researched concerns about the adequacy of the new translation from pastoral, liturgical, theological, linguistic and cultural perspective. Unfortunately, the response from Bishop John McAreavey, Fr. Paddy Jones and Bishop Seamus Freeman was every disappointing. Worse was to come. In a letter to the ACP the Commission did not address any of the substantive pastoral, theological, linguistic and cultural concerns raised at the February meeting. This took place at a time when the bishops issued their pastoral letter entitled Towards Healing and Renewal. In this document the bishops stated that “one of their greatest failures in the past was a failure to listen.”

Angela Hanley

Martin Kennedy asked the theologian Angela Hanley to share her reflections on the new Missal. She spoke for about 10 minutes. She called attention to a number of particularly historical moments in the life of the Catholic Church since the Second Vatican Council. The first was the way that the Encyclical Humanae Vitae was implemented and, especially, the treatment which was meted out to those who raised questions about it. The second was the refusal of the Catholic Church in Ireland and right around the world, to face up to the clerical abuse scandals in the 1970s and the 1980s. The third moment she highlighted was the Apostolic Letter of Pope John Paul II – Ordinatio Sacerdotalis in which he stated that women could not be ordained to the priesthood.

The fourth moment was the imposition of translation of the new Missal without adequate consultation.

She identified two elements which are common in all of these moments. First, an unwillingness on the part of Church leaders to believe that they can err, despite numerous examples in history. Second, a belief, that despite the teaching of Vatican II, all competence for administration within the Church is vested in one person – the Pope.

Angela said that we need a paradigm shift or Copernican revolution in our understanding of the Church. The Church does err and history has shown this to be true. This, however, does not conflict with our belief that the Holy Spirit remains with the Church to protect it and save it from error. The Spirit works in and through all of us, through our gifts, though our challenges, and through our discernment of failure – when we assess our mistakes and learn from them.

Angela went on to say that the current English translation of the missal is wrong. Having it forced on us compounds that wrong. The question remains – what are we going to do about it? She suggested that it would be easy for the ACP to say, “we have made our views known, we have challenged it on different grounds and there is nothing else we can do.”

“All that is left now,” she said,” if the five year moratorium is not accepted is to refuse to implement the translation. You cannot be forced to act against your conscience. Look at history – there is a record of peace-loving individuals using passive resistance to avoid collusion with oppressive regimes.” There will be costs. The same applies to people in the pews. We can also be passively resistant by choosing to be silent in Church and offer no response.

This is a pivotal moment in the Church – and no one who has been any way involved with the forced implementation of this missal will have the luxury to look back and say, of only we had known….

Fr. Brendan Hoban

Brendan Hoban then addressed some of the challenges which now face lay Catholics, priests and bishops, when the new missal is introduced.

1. How, as priests, do we deal with the anger of our people who realise that they have not been consulted about the language we use at the liturgy?
2. How do we deal with the prevalence of exclusive language? This is not merely a problem for women it also affects many men as well.
3. How do we deal with the confusion of our parishioners as they struggle with inserts which change the liturgy with which they have become familiar over the past 30 years.
4. How do we deal with the ridicule of those who have opted out of active participation in the Church and now feel confirmed in their wisdom?

Specific difficulties for priests:

1. If a priests feels that it is impossible for him to intelligently read a prayer with 60 or more words per sentence, what is he supposed to do?
2. If a priest feels that, for pastoral and linguistic reasons, he cannot use the new Missal, is he confronted with making a decision to use either the new Missal, the Tridentine rite or not saying Mass at all?

Difficulties for Bishops

1. Brendan asked what can be done to avoid the growing rift between bishops and priests which will be further exacerbated by the imposition of the new Missal?
2. What can be done to repair the growing division with Rome, who despite our service and particular competence in the practical area of liturgy, refused to consult us?

Practical Concerns

1. At present there is a derogation for people who wish to say the Tridentine Latin Mass even though there is minimal demand for this among priests or laity. Why cannot there be similar derogation for those who wish to use the present form?
2. Should we call on Irish Bishops to accept that some priests, who have serious difficulties with the new Missal, be given an opportunity not to use it?
3. If the changes are found to be unworkable and congregations are reduced to silence, do the Irish Bishops have a plan B for the celebration of the Eucharist in our parishes. Will they revisit the issue in the autumn of 2012 and use professional surveys to ascertain how the new Missal is being received by the people?
4. A reference was made earlier to the comments of Archbishop Bugnini, the architect of the Vatican II liturgical reforms. In his book The Reform of the Liturgy page xxvii) he wrote: “The work of experts needed to be ratified in the minds of ordinary folk if the change was to find acceptance in the soul of the people.”

A Lively Discussion

After these presentations, Martin Kennedy facilitated a lively discussion for more than one hour. Every one of the 25 + people who spoke criticised both the translation itself, the lack of consultation involved in the process and the authoritarian way in which these faulty texts are being imposed on the Irish Church. Words and phrases such as “dominance,” “control,” “incompetence,” “bullying,” “lack of courage” and “fascism” were used by many of the speakers. Even though there was anger and frustration in the room, everyone who spoke, either in critiquing the new Missal itself or the processes involved in it imposition, did so out of a concern for the wellbeing of the Catholic Church in Ireland Many of those who spoke said that the Bishops are more responsive to Roman bureaucrats than the concerns and pastoral expertise of their priests and people. The Bishops have authority when it comes to liturgical matters. This is clear in The General Instruction on The Roman Missal, which states that, each Conference of Bishops may establish additional norms for its territory to suit the traditions and character of the people, the region and the various communities” (No. 6). The German bishops showed courage in not accepting the new translation, why did the Irish Bishops not take a similar stand?

One of the most interesting comments at the meeting came from a priest from the West of Ireland. He spoke of a recent meeting in Knock where priests from the four dioceses of Tuam, Achonry, Clonfert and Killala met for a training day on the new Missal. The meeting began at 11.30 am. Bishop John McAreavey was expected to speak for 45 to 50 minutes on the new texts and then allow time for questions. Unfortunately, the bishop continued speaking until 12.50 pm, when the meeting broke up for lunch.

The meeting resumed at 2.30pm and the bishop was about to continue his talk and deal with some of the texts when a priest stood up and expressed the frustration of the priests at not having an opportunity to ask questions. He, and many others, expressed their annoyance at not being listened to during the preparation of the texts. The Knock meeting itself was another example of bishops not listening to reasonable questions and concerns. He was followed by more than 20 other priests. All but two criticised various aspects of the Missal and the fact that priests are not listened to by either the Irish Bishops or Roman authorities. One priest was amazed with Bishop McAreavey’s explanation that, “I believe” instead of “We believe” in the new translation of the Creed could be explained by saying that the “I “ was a “corporate I,” and therefore really meant “we.”

This intervention was very important because a number of supporters of the new Missal are claiming that priests are in favour of it because they are not challenging it at these clergy meetings. The fallacy here is that, in many of these meetings, they are not being allowed or encouraged to express their opinions.

All of the women who spoke criticised the pervasive use of sexist language as both insulting and incompetent. One stated categorically that she will never use it. Obviously, the translators have not heard that “man” is no longer a common noun in contemporary English.

Towards the end of the meeting a recommendation was unanimously adopted that priests and people avoid using the sexist language that pervades the New Missal.

It is noteworthy that the meeting was also attended by representatives of various lay groups and religious.


Ecce Homo said...

Oh come off it. Back in 1969 there were hardly any objections raised when the Latin Mass was scrapped and the rubbishy new English Mass was introduced. Objecting now over a few very slight changes to the English Mass is just being perverse and objecting for the sake of objecting. Trying to make up pseudo-theological reasons for these objections is completely ridiculous. What are these people really objecting to? They shoud at least try to be honest with themselves.

Jayden Cameron said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jayden Cameron said...

The caring individuals quoted in the article seem like deeply conscientious individuals of genuine integrity. Many words of wisdom here, thanks for this. I was particularly stuck by this comment:

"The Church does err and history has shown this to be true. This, however, does not conflict with our belief that the Holy Spirit remains with the Church to protect it and save it from error. The Spirit works in and through all of us, through our gifts, though our challenges, and through our discernment of failure – when we assess our mistakes and learn from them."

There will always be those who in their arrogance will resist the work of the Spirit, 'operating through our gifts, our challenges, and our discernment of failure', those too stuck in the past to change.' It is imperative that we do not allow them to dominate the conversation.

Contemplative Catholic said...

Thank you Jayden for your thoughtful comment. . .

berenike said...

Jayden - you are right. But fortunately those opposed to this change are not dominating the conversation :) S