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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

An Irish Rebellion

The winter of discontent continues.  It seems that on the heels of Fr. Anthony Ruff's letter, more negative reactions to the coming Roman Missal  have filled cyberspace.  Evidently, some priests in Ireland have also taken up the banner in protest against the coming English translation of the Roman Missal.

Here is what they said in their press release:

The celebration of the Mass is central to our work as priests and, more importantly, to the lives of the people we serve.  In the words of the central document of Vatican II, Lumen Gentium  (The Light of the People), the Mass is “ the source and summit of the Christian life.” (LG11). Our concerns flow from our experience as pastors who attempt each Sunday to celebrate the liturgy with our people in a meaningful, dignified and prayerful way.  Many bishops, priests, lay people, theologians and liturgists across the English speaking world share our concerns

Opposition on the grounds of the Language used
  • A word-for-word translation from Latin into a vernacular language, mandated by the document Liturgiam Authenticam (March 2001), demonstrates a lack of awareness of the insights gained from linguistics and anthropology during the past 100 years. Translators in other international bodies follow the ‘dynamic equivalent’ norm which means translating according to the sense of the original text, rather than literally.

  • The ACP is gravely concerned that this literal translation from Latin has produced texts that are archaic, elitist and obscure and not in keeping with the natural rhythm, cadence and syntax of the English language.  In fact, from the few available samples of the new texts, it is clear that the style of English used throughout the Mass will be so convoluted that it will be difficult to read the prayers in public. In the words of Bishop Donald Trautman, former chair of the United States Bishops’ Liturgical Committee, this is a translation where “the vocabulary is not readily understandable by the average Catholic…  how can someone read the text in public when some of the sentences contain 70 or 80 words.” 

It is particularly ironic that this Latinised, stilted English is being imposed on Irish people who are so blessed with world-renowned poets, playwrights, and novelists.
  • Catholics should be allowed to pray publically in their own language.  Jesus used the language of the people when he was speaking with them. The New Testament is written in the language of the ordinary people, not classical Greek.

  • The ACP is aware of the history of this translation. It regrets that the expertise of scholars in many disciplines was spurned. Many of these scholars gave their time and talents freely to help the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL), produce acceptable texts.  In 1998 the ICEL translation was accepted and approved by every conferences of bishops in the English speaking world.

  • The translation is also in conflict with the Constitution of the Sacred Liturgy which has a whole section on norms for adapting the Liturgy to the temperament and traditions of people. This allows for legitimate variations and adaptations. (No. 38).

  • This translation runs contrary to one of the main goals of our Association, namely: That liturgical celebrations use rituals and language that are easily understood, inclusive and accessible to all

Sacrosanctum Concilium, contrary to popular myth, did not necessarily mandate that the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass be celebrated entirely in the vernacular. 

36. 1. Particular law remaining in force, the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites.
2. But since the use of the mother tongue, whether in the Mass, the administration of the sacraments, or other parts of the Liturgy, frequently may be of great advantage to the people, the limits of its employment may be extended. This will apply in the first place to the readings and directives, and to some of the prayers and chants, according to the regulations on this matter to be laid down separately in subsequent chapters.

The ACP also seems to forget that Liturgiam Authenticam, promulgated by soon-to-be-Blessed John Paul II, also takes its root from Sacrosanctum Concilium:
3. These norms being observed, it is for the competent territorial ecclesiastical authority mentioned in Art. 22, 2, to decide whether, and to what extent, the vernacular language is to be used; their decrees are to be approved, that is, confirmed, by the Apostolic See. And, whenever it seems to be called for, this authority is to consult with bishops of neighboring regions which have the same language.
4. Translations from the Latin text into the mother tongue intended for use in the Liturgy must be approved by the competent territorial ecclesiastical authority mentioned above.

While the Association of Catholic Priests' seems to echo some of the same arguments that Bishop  Trautmann made when he was trying to stall the approval of the revised texts, the ACP seems to not quite understand neither Liturgiam Authenticam nor Sacrosanctum Concilium.  Neither document indicates that priests, let alone, the faithful, needed to have been consulted in matters concerning the translation.  It just seems to me that pride has overtaken fidelity in this case.


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