Pray Tell Blog on reaction to the new translation, one year on . . . .
The December U.S. Catholic (print edition, not yet online) looks at the new missal’s first year in “Words Fail Us.” It’s a rather devastating critique of the whole thing. Their online survey was completed by 1,231 priests and 1,208 laypeople. I know, I know, it’s probably a self-selecting audience that goes to USCath, as is the case with the commbox at Fr. Z’s WDTPRS or anywhere else. But still, this is pretty serious stuff, the reactions of the USCath crowd.
58% of the priests checked “I dislike the new translations and still can’t believe I’ll have to use them for the foreseeable future.” Only 4% say “I was unsure about it at first, but I’ve grown accustomed to the new translations.” Only 9% say “I personally enjoy the new translations as much as, if not more than, the old version.” If given the option, 76% of priests would go back to the old translation. Over three fourths! Only 16% of priests say that the new translations have had a positive effect on their prayerfulness during Mass – 75% disagree. 10% of the priests have heard parishioners tell them that they were leaving to worship in other churches over the language changes in the Mass.
Asked to comment on the most difficult part about making the transition, the priest respondents gave an earful. “Acting like I appreciate the new texts when I find them to be terrible,” said Fr. James Sauer in Evansville IN. “Handling the disappointment of the people and realizing their complaints are well founded,” from Fr. Patrick Connor in Nashville, TN. “Mastering the art of speaking like Yoda,” said Fr. Brian Fischer in Chicago.
Asked what as a presider the new text has made them, Fr. Francis Gignac SJ replied “Annoyed.” “Enjoy saying Mass far less,” said Fr. Stanley Robert Azaro, OP. “Feel like a robot with no heart or soul,” said Fr. John Francis Samsa of Apleton, WI. “Resentful. It was a poor process and a poor translation, period,” said Fr. Jack Conley, CP.
But not all is a loss. Asked to comment on positive effects, Fr. Alan Phillip of Sierra Madre, CA said “At times we have had a few good laughs because of the convoluted language.”
Priests were given an opportunity to make suggestions to improve the translation. All the expected answers came in: get rid of “And with your spirit,” “chalice,” “Consubstantial,” “I” in the creed, and so forth. And this: “Throw it all out and start over,” from Fr. Paul Freemesser in Rochester, NY.
49% of the laity still dislike the new translation but will put up with it; 17% don’t like the new translations much but don’t think it’s a big deal; 17% like the new translations as much as or more than the old one, and 6% were unsure at first but have grown accustomed to the new translations. Not exactly a happy acceptance.
Only 21% of laity agree that the new translation has had a positive effect on their prayer and participation – 70% of laity disagree. 25% of laity know people who have left to worship elsewhere because of the missal change. 54% of laity wish we could go back to the old translation – only 29% disagree.
So now what? What do bishops do with sentiments like this among their flock?
I know, I know, this isn’t a scientific survey. But it’s not nothing, either.
I expect bishops would want to do a lot more to find out how widespread the views in the survey are. Wouldn’t you think?
UPDATE Monday morning: I see that USCath posted part of the issue right after I posted. I see a causal connection and am amazed at the power of this blog – makes me wish I had posted sooner so USCath had too. It’s here.