Mass translations: Things I can’t say

128 Responses

  1. Martin Keenan says:

    A priest believes that, at Mass, he is there “primarily” as a member of the community of the baptised, and for that reason, “in good faith” he cannot bring himself to say the words of one of the Mass prayers.

    Is this not an instance of that “identity crisis” spoken of in Pastores dabo vobis (1992) at paras 9 and 11?

    Bishop Brislin cited the topic in his speech to the recent SACBC plenary (published in two parts in The Southern Cross last week and this). He wrote (it is online in these pages under “Bishops views” as “The Priesthood Today”):-

    “These various understandings of priesthood as ecclesiological that is in a functionary sense (facilitator, social worker), rather than as a representative of Christ, together with cultural and social changes manifested in current trends such as secularisation and materialism have radically changed perceptions of priesthood . . ”

    For the worse. He calls it a negative influence which has had various repercussions including this:-

    “Furthermore, it has led to a kind of ‘identity crisis’ where priests and people are confused about the role of a priest.”

    The priest, when celebrating the sacred mysteries, does not juggle two identities for the ministerial and the common priesthood differ “essentially and not only in degree” (Lumen gentium, n.10). Rather, by virtue of his ministerial priesthood, he performs at Mass two tasks without which the Church will cease to exist:-

    “The ministerial priesthood has the task not only of representing Christ . . before the assembly of the faithful, but also of acting in the name of the whole Church when presenting to God the prayer of the Church, and above all when offering the Eucharistic sacrifice” (CCC, 1552).

    The Mass is not only the sacrifice of Christ, but of the Church. It is the sacrifice of the whole Christ, head and members. The priest is present as another Christ, and also as representing the Church.

    That is why the words of the prayer are “my sacrifice and yours”.

  2. David says:

    Amen, Fr Larry!

    I see this whole translation thing as a smokescreen for a rather creepy conservative restorationist programme intended to downplay the role of ordinary men and women in the church’s mission, entrench clergy privilege and roll back the liturgical and other reforms of the Second Vatican Council.

  3. Martin Keenan says:

    Fr. Kaufmann accepts that the priest acts “in persona Christi” but seems to downplay its relevance to the prayer in question by saying ” . . in the wider context of the liturgy I don’t deny [it]”. There is no call to distract attention away from the ministerial priest’s ontological identity as the one who offers Christ in sacrifice to the Father and who also offers, in the name of the Body of Christ, the Church herself.

    There is no “roll back” agenda here. It is core to the teaching of Vatican II and of the Church before and since. Precisely because it concerns a vital topic in the life of the Church today, this is no time for sloganising and tub-thumping, but for serious reflection.

    ” . . every liturgical celebration, because it is an action of Christ the priest and of His Body which is the Church, is a sacred action surpassing all others . .” (Second Vatican Ecumenical Council: Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum concilium n.7)

    ” . . Though they differ from one another in essence and not only in degree, the common priesthood of the faithful and the ministerial or hierarchical priesthood are nonetheless interrelated: each of them in its own special way is a participation in the one priesthood of Christ. The ministerial priest, by the sacred power he enjoys, teaches and rules the priestly people; acting in the person of Christ, he makes present the Eucharistic sacrifice, and offers it to God in the name of all the people. But the faithful, in virtue of their royal priesthood, join in the offering of the Eucharist.” (Second Vatican Ecumenical Council: Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen gentium n.10)

    “In [the Lord Jesus] all the faithful are made a holy and royal priesthood; they offer spiritual sacrifices to God through Jesus Christ . . Therefore, there is no member who does not have a part in the mission of the whole Body . . The same Lord, however, has established ministers among his faithful to unite them together in one body in which, ‘not all the members have the same function’ (Rom 12:4). These ministers in the society of the faithful are able by the sacred power of orders to offer sacrifice and to forgive sins, and they perform their priestly office publicly for men in the name of Christ . . Through the ministry of the priests, the spiritual sacrifice of the faithful is made perfect in union with the sacrifice of Christ. He is the only mediator who in the name of the whole Church is offered sacramentally in the Eucharist and in an unbloody manner until the Lord himself comes. The ministry of priests is directed to this goal and is perfected in it.” (Second Vatican Ecumenical Council: Decree on the Life and Ministry of Priests, Presbyterorum ordinis n.2)

    “Priests act especially in the person of Christ as ministers of holy things, particularly in the Sacrifice of the Mass, the sacrifice of Christ who gave himself for the sanctification of men. ” (ibid., n.13)

  4. I most certainly do not deny the sacramental dignity of the priest acting in persona Christi. But it would be a bit odd if the same priest were not baptised in the first place! In this sense, even before sacramental ordination, every deacon, priest and bishops is PRIMARILY a member of the community of the baptised (as I stated). In this whole debate I fear the dignity of the sacrament of baptism is being downplayed. Ultimately one cannot be anything more than a child of God. In this sense, Martin, you are first and foremost my brother in Christ.

  5. Fr Kevin Reynolds says:

    Thanks, Larry, for your thought provoking letter.

    As my late father (whom you will fondly remember from our growing up in the Monastery parish) would have said, your letter “tickled me pink” because it confirmed beyond doubt the suspicion I mentioned in the opening paragraph of my letter published alongside yours.

    More importantly and specifically with reference to your debate with Martin, you are right about the primacy of the Sacrament of Baptism. Indeed the other six sacraments, including the Eucharist, facilitate our growth in Divine Life and Love which Baptism initiates.

  6. Martin Keenan says:

    The problem, Fr. Kaufmann, lies in your use of the word “primarily” in your letter, and in the view (which you implicitly advanced there) that “our sacrifice” correctly describes the action of the Eucharistic liturgy, whereas “my sacrifice and yours” does not.

    Your use of the word “primarily” implies that, at Mass, you are only “secondarily” a priest. You now make the uncontroversial point that, as a matter of chronological necessity, you were a baptised Christian before you received sacred orders. If that is what you meant I can only regret the formula you used in your letter.

    Now, however, you say that “ultimately one cannot be anything more than a child of God” which (in light of your previous remarks) again appears to put the ontological identity of the priest in dispute.

    The immediate issue, however, is your opposition to part of a Latin prayer which reads “meum ac vestrum sacrificium”, as to which I gave abundant source material to demonstrate that the use of two pronouns in this prayer reflects an essential aspect of the Church’s constant teaching on the action of the Mass.

    Despite the context of your letter, the real object of your complaint is actually the Latin phrase itself, which appears in the Ordinary of the Mass as revised in 1969 by experts working in consultation with bishops from all over the world in fulfillment of the Second Vatican Council’s mandate (Sacrosanctum Concilium n. 25).

    The consensus in most major liturgical languages (French and until recently English were the glaring exceptions) was to translate both pronouns. The Italian text reads at this point: “il mio e vostro sacrificio”; Spanish reads: “este sacrificio, mio y vuestro”; German: “mein under euer Opfer”; and Portuguese: “o meu e vosso sacrificio”. The Afrikaans text has: “my en u offer .”

    So all these – from the experts who revised the Ordo Missae in 1969, through the bishops’ conferences where Spanish, Italian, German and Portuguese are spoken, to the recent decision by all the bishops’ conferences of English-speaking countries to approve the new ICEL version “my sacrifice and yours” all these are wrong, and you are right?

  7. Lynette Paterson says:

    Thank you Fr Kaufmann for your letter! What a breath of fresh air and, for once, a priest who will speak out against the ludicrous translation that has been imposed. I hope that you continue and wish that many of our beloved priests would say how they really feel. So many priests say, to us individually, that they do not agree with this translation yet they do not say it publicly. I sense that they live in ‘fear’ – how sad! I also agree fully with David. Martin Keenan does not seem to get your point at all. Bravo Fr, please be strong and take heart!

  8. Martin Keenan says:

    What point is it that I am not getting? The Latin text says “meum ac vestrum sacrificium”. On what ground does Fr. Kaufmann – in opposition to the Church universal – insist on saying “our sacrifice” at Mass? He is simply substituting what he thinks the Latin ought to have said.

    This is not a translation issue at all, although Fr. Kaufmann presents it as such. Fr. Kaufmann obviously thinks he knows better than the experts who revised the Latin text of the Ordo Missae in 1969 – not to mention all the bishops’ conferences throughout the world in lands which speak Spanish, English, Portuguese, German, and Italian who have followed the Latin by translating two pronouns.

  9. Vincent Couling says:

    It appears to me that there are two different mentalities at work here. One is the “either/or” mentality, which tends to want clear-cut categories and black-and-white definitions, and which plays power games, trying to force issues and “win” arguments by making incessant demands. It might help if some could learn to appreciate that precise textual formulations of sacred mysteries are inherently limited, simply because of our inherent incapacity to fully grasp the divine and the metaphysical (for now we see through a glass darkly). Even the Bishops and periti at ecumenical councils can only formulate using the limited symbolism of language. Sure, the words are icons, symbols pointing to divine mysteries. But the words themselves are not the sacred mysteries – holding that would surely be idolatry. And the words (fortunately or unfortunately, depending on one’s mentality) can NEVER encapsulate the fullness of the divine mysteries, even if our minds could fully grasp them in the first place.

    And then we have a “both/and” mentality. Fr Larry seems to be saying that he recognizes and appreciates the theology of the ordained priest acting “in Persona Christi,” but that he also recognizes that he is first and foremost a member of the community of the baptised. And so he chooses to say “our sacrifice” rather than “my sacrifice and yours.” I, for one, fully understand and respect his decision, and hope that he isn’t “forced into line” by some or other bureaucratic entity. Fr Larry doesn’t appear to be saying that all other priests should follow suit, trying to force an issue with power and authoritarianism. In fact, I’m certain that Fr Larry would be more inclined to want to dialogue and persuade (in charity) rather than to insist – and this is the true nature of authority.

  10. Martin Keenan says:

    It is not for Fr. Kaufmann to “choose”.

  11. Martin Keenan says:

    It is Fr. Kaufmann who is very publicly forcing the issue by eliminating, on his own authority, the layers of meaning contained in the two pronouns.

    Consider the presentation contained in passages from the Catechism quoted above dealing with exactly this point. The sacrifice is twofold; or let us say (in the classic formulation) that it is the sacrifice of totus Christus, caput et membra [the whole Christ, head and members]. The sacrifice of the Church (which is the Body of Christ) is offered in union with the sacrifice of Christ, her head.

    As I understand it, Fr. Kaufmann appeals to his conscience as the ultimate authority for deciding which words of the Mass to accept and which not – even if it is only in this one instance. He then exercises the authority which he possesses as the one who presides, in order to impose the fruits of his conscience on the whole people of God gathered together at Masses which he celebrates. This maverick divergence of his from the norm will cause perplexity, and stimulates an unhealthy polarising (as is evident from comments in this thread).

    On the question of authority in liturgical matters, the teaching of the Council is clear (Sacrosanctum concilium n.22):-

    “1. Regulation of the sacred liturgy depends solely on the authority of the Church, that is, on the Apostolic See and, as laws may determine, on the bishop.
    2. In virtue of power conceded by the law, the regulation of the liturgy within certain defined limits belongs also to [the bishops’ conference].
    3. Therefore no other person, even if he be a priest, may add, remove, or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority.”

  12. Lynette Paterson says:

    Thank you Vincnet for a wonderful comment. Martin Keenan seems to be a legalist – the kind Jesus warns about in the Gospels who are so worried about the outside of the cup that they forget to clean the inside! His use of the words ‘law’ and ‘regulation’ indicate that, for him, it is all about laws and not the heart! Instead of reading all these documents you seem intent on quoting have you ever taken time to read the Gospels Martin? It might be a good idea! Priests should pray from the heart and I think it is wonderful when they do. Bravo Vincent, Bravo Fr Larry!

  13. Lynette Paterson says:

    Ps. Fr Larry is not in opposition to the Church universal. The universal Church is not just hierarchy but us, God’s people. Have we been consulted? NO! You might just discover that it is not the ‘Church universal’ who wants this but a minority of people who play power games! I for one think that this tranlsation is horrible and has degraded our mass. So do many people and priests. So, what Church are you talking about?

  14. Martin Keenan says:

    My use of the words “law” and “regulation”? My reference to the teaching of the Second Vatican Council, you mean. Fr. Kaufmann raised the issue of authority in his article. It was that issue I was addressing.

  15. Martin Keenan says:

    I notice Fr. Kaufmann addresses me as his “brother” in his post, but signs himself “Father”. In writing in this fashion (that is, “primarily” as my spiritual father while simultaneously asserting brotherhood in Christ) he follows the example of the Apostles, as we see repeatedly in the Letters of St. Paul and St. John.

    St. Paul, indeed, frequently addresses the Saints at Corinth as his “brothers” (1Co.1:11; 2:1; 3:1; 4:6; 7:29 etc.), but he also tells them “I am not writing this to shame you, but to warn you as my dear children: even though you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Jesus Christ I became your father through the gospel” (1Co.4:14f.).

    Even more pertinently, when he is giving instructions to the Church at Corinth he writes: “To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): a wife must not separate from her husband . . To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): if any brother has a wife who is not a believer (etc.)” (1Co.7:10, 12).

    In the former case it is evident in which capacity he is “primarily” speaking, precisely because he claims to speak as Christ. This is directly analogous to the priestly action at Mass, where the priest speaks as Christ: “This is my body which will be given up for you . . This is the chalice of my blood . . .which will be poured out for you”. When the priest says these words, he is not speaking “primarily” as a member of the company of the baptised present at Mass any more than St. Paul was “primarily” speaking in his own persona when he wrote “I give this command”.

    At Mass the priest is to set aside his own personality so that he might become another Christ for us.

  16. Vincent Couling says:

    Something is being distorted in the previous post. In the new (i.e. literal equivalence) translation, the Eucharistic prayers make the priest say things like:

    “On the day before he was to suffer he took bread in his holy and venerable hands, and with eyes raised to heaven to you, O God, his almighty Father, giving you thanks he said the blessing, broke the bread and gave it to his disciples, saying: take this, all of you, and eat of it: for this is my body which will be given up for you.”

    This sounds like the priest speaking in the persona of himself, methinks. If he is speaking as Christ (in the strict literal sense implied in the previous post), should he not instead be saying:

    “On the day before I was to suffer I took bread in my holy and venerable hands, and with eyes raised to heaven to you, O God, my almighty Father, giving you thanks I said the blessing, broke the bread and gave it to my disciples, saying: take this, all of you, and eat of it: for this is my body which will be given up for you. “

  17. David says:

    On the day before he was to suffer he took bread in his holy and venerable hands, and with eyes raised to heaven to you, O God, his almighty Father, giving you thanks he said the blessing, broke the bread and gave it to his disciples, saying: take this, all of you, and eat of it: for this is my body which will be given up for you.

    What tortuous prose, what ugly verse. Faithful to the Latin, ugly English pretty much sums up the new translation. The Mass will be is so much the poorer for it. What a shame.

  18. Fr Russell Pollitt says:

    I have been following the pages and pages on this new translation. As a young priest I am disappointed and disillusioned with the direction the Church seems to be taking – the slow undoing of Vatican II. Thats the crux of the issue. Its not really about language but rather trying to kick Vatican II out. There is much evidence for this – the return of the Lefevbrists just another example! I think that this so-called need to be ‘faithful’ is a big smoke screen for another agenda. It’s such a pity that the truth is in question in this whole debacle. That for me is the real issue. Integrity in a number of areas has been brought into question through this mess. The new translation is simply ‘ugly’ – as David remarks. As a pastor I fear that this will have a detrimental effect on the Church – especially young people – and minimise our pastoral effectiveness. How often don’t we bemoan the fact that young people don’t come to Church or have no interest in faith? Every parish and diocese have this as a concern. This new translation is just another reason to keep them away or disinterested! But it’s not only young people, some older people who still remember the Latin mass before the Council are disappointed and saddened by this. What a pity that we (the Church but especially leadership) can’t see this or won’t see it or just will not listen to ordinary people and many priests. We will have new missals in the future and a new translation but alienate many people – especially young people! I find most of the arguments for this translation simply inadequate and think that they have no theological basis. Changing words around does not change the theology. Just look at how much of it is simply playing with words and making it sound archaic, thats in essence all it does! It’s a very sad moment, I think, in the life of our Church. I use the translation because I have to but must admit that celebrating mass with this new translation leaves me feeling unenthusiastic and sad. I can’t see the difference it makes except that it is awkward to read and causes confusion for many making the responses. I wonder what the Lord would really say? Dare I suggest ‘Woe to you…’

  19. Martin Keenan says:

    Nothing is distorted in post 15.

    Fr. Kaufmann himself concedes that in the liturgy the priest acts “in persona Christi”. So far as concerns the Eucharistic Sacrifice, we find this emphatically stated by the Council Fathers (SC nn.7, 33; LG nn. 10, 28, 37; PO, nn.2, 13; see also AG n.39) who affirm the constant teaching of the Church on this point.

  20. Vincent Couling says:

    Some further thoughts.

    If a sacrament is only confected if certain words are spoken by a priest in persona Christi, then what about a layperson performing a baptism, or two laypeople getting married (they, and not the ordained priest, are the ministers of the sacrament of matrimony)? That a layperson (and a female layperson at that!) can act as an alter Christus in these instances has obvious implications as regards the inclusive our sacrifice versus the exclusive my sacrifice and yours argument, and indeed as regards the priestly character of all the baptised.

    And if the institution narrative has the priest speaking in persona Christi, upon which the species of bread and wine are transubstantiated into the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ (to use the language of St Thomas Aquinas, and of the Council of Trent), what then of the Eucharistic prayer of Saints Addai and Mari of the Assyrian Church, and the Malabar and Chaldean Catholic Churches? In this, one of the oldest Eucharistic prayers, the words of the institution narrative are absent altogether! If the words of institution, spoken by the ordained priest in Persona Christi, are essential to the validity of the sacrament, then why did the CDF under the then Cardinal Ratzinger declare that this Eucharistic prayer is valid?

    Ultimately, it is Christ himself who transforms the bread and the wine into his Body and Blood, and not the priest or the laity. And whether this happens at the Epiclesis, or during the words of the institution narrative, or elsewhere during the Eucharistic prayer is immaterial (unless the overly-zealous mind of the legalist insists on defining what is essentially a mystery beyond our ken). And it remains amply clear that the priest is not saying the Eucharistic prayer as if he were Christ speaking in the first person (the priest standing as an alter Christus), but is rather narrating in the persona of the priest. This strengthens the “our sacrifice” perspective. (And has implications as regards the arguments used to justify the barring of women from the ordained priesthood – e.g the argument that the person standing in as the alter Christus must have male genitalia since Christ was male.)

    The point is that the priest is acting BOTH in persona Christi AND in the persona of himself. And so if the priest says our sacrifice, emphasizing that he is ultimately a child of God, another member of the community, and our brother in Christ, where lies the problem? After all, such a priest is simply saying what all other priests in the rest of the English-speaking world (bar parts of Southern Africa) are saying, and have been saying for the past few decades, with the full approval of the English-speaking Bishops’ Conferences AND the CDW! And if Christ somehow uses the priest during the prayer, the priest still remains a member of the community. The priest is no more or less in the Image of God than anyone else in the assembled community.

    That the present curial officials at the CDW, many of whom seem not able to speak any English at all, can impose a new English translation, even though it is so widely unpopular, smacks of authoritarianism. Let us see if this translation is received in the US, in Britain, in Ireland, in Australia, in Canada and the rest of the English-speaking world. Reading Paddy Kearneys biography of Archbishop Hurley, and the shenanigans surrounding curial treatment of the ICEL, one quickly realizes that an absence of collegiality and the proper exercise of authority lies at the very heart of this matter (as with so many others).

  21. Dear Vincent,

    Of course it is not just a priest who can celebrate a sacrament. As you so rightly point out, lay people can baptise in an ememrgency. however, they have to intend what the Church intends with Baptism, and they have to USE THE CORRECT FORMULA (i.e. Father, Son and Holy Spirit), otherwise there has been no baptism. For example, they cannot baptise “in the name of Jesus.” This is not valid. Married couples also follow a certain formula at their echange of vows. In fact , there are several options to choose from. When you say that the Eucharistic prayer of Saints Addai and Mari are valid, you are correct, but only for the rites that they belong to. In the Latin Rite, the words of institution are essential, and the Mass is not valid if you leave them out.

    There is one other thing that you say in your above entry that I would question, and it is something that so many lay people say because of the influence of certain priests. You say: “The priest is no more or less in the Image of God than anyone else in the assembled community.” Unfortunately, I think that your statement is misleading and, in a sense, devalues the sacrament of Ordination. It is so PC to say that “the priest is no different from anyone else,” and I understand what people are trying to say by saying this. Yes, as a human being he is no different. However, when he acts in Persona Christi, then there is a difference. The Church teaches that the ministerial priesthood differs from the priesthood of the baptised both in essence and degree. This means that there is a difference, and to say that the priest is “just like everyone else” at the Eucharistic gathering is to remove his sacred role at that said gathering. Just because something is PC to say and touches on ONE aspect of the truth does not make it right.

  22. Vincent Couling says:

    Dear Fr John,

    Thank you for your gentlemanly post, and for your points well made.

    I wonder if the Eucharistic prayer of Saints Addai and Mari would be valid but illicit if celebrated by a Latin Rite priest, rather than invalid? I.e. it is against Canon Law, and so is “illegal” in a juridical sense. But if such a Eucharistic prayer is valid for one Rite, it must surely be valid per se. I suppose the same pertains to the use of leavened bread (Eastern Orthodox) and unleavened bread (Latin Rite) in the Euacharist, et cetera.

    I must admit that I really have no issue with the Sacrament of Holy Orders. Rather, it is priestly clericalism that I find worrisome – and the historical language of the priesthood being “the higher calling.” I suppose it might sound PC, but I am of the firm opinion that we are all equal before God … even though we are all gifted in very different ways, and are called to different charisms. We are ALL called by God to serve, though often in different ways. And the ordained priests remain members of the community, even though they are called to Holy Orders. This idea of placing priests on a pedestal, hermetically sealing them off from the community, and training them to be aloof and to have no “particular friendships,” might be at the root of the identity crisis referred to in post no. 1 on this thread. And even perhaps at the root of the immature sexuality of those dis-integrated priests who have abused young people.

    These are just thoughts, added to stir the pot and hopefully lead to healthy debate. I think that each generation of Catholics needs to own the teachings of the Church, rather than to just accept them with a blind, unquestioning obediance. I most certainly do not claim to have any definitive answers. But I do know what my intuition tells me when the priest goes back to saying things like “my sacrifice and yours.” I get the uneasy feeling that the laagers might be circling, trying to shore up the idea of a higher calling. And what I hope for our priests is more personal integration, rather than a false sense of otherness, which I think may lead to a certain dis-integration.

    Blessings to you, Fr John, and to all our beloved priests.

  23. Martin Keenan says:

    [A] Fr. Pollitt: “Thats the crux of the issue. Its not really about language but rather trying to kick Vatican II out.”

    This crude analysis is neither useful nor consonant with the facts. Two arguments in favour of the new translation have yet to be acknowledged by the critics: (1) it restores Anglophone countries to the mainstream of Catholic liturgical prayer world-wide; and (2) it re-instates scriptural allusions and tropes present in the Latin master text that were previously obscured, suppressed or truncated.

    Nor is (3) the requirement for “sacral language” in the liturgy correctly viewed as a ploy in a rearguard action against the old ICEL in the 1990’s.

    As early as November 1965 and October 1966 Pope Paul VI insisted that liturgical texts, when translated into the vernacular, must be distinguishable from everyday speech. This remained a concern of the 1985 Extraordinary Synod of Bishops which pondered the fruits of Vatican II: “It is evident that the liturgy must favour the sense of the sacred and make it shine forth. It must be permeated by the spirit of reverence, adoration and glory of God.” And cf.”Vicesimus Quintus Annus” (1988) 13.

  24. Martin Keenan says:

    B] Fr. Pollitt: “I find most of the arguments for this translation simply inadequate and think that they have no theological basis.”

    Justifications (1), (2) and (3) in my previous post are neither insubstantial nor untheological. Indeed, the strangest aspect of the local protests is the fact that the few objections to specific texts are all boldly advanced on theological grounds despite the unashamed presence in the 1969 “Ordo Missae” (revised in accordance with the Council Fathers’ mandate) of “et cum spiritu tuo”, “mea maxima culpa”, “meum ac vestrum sacrificium”, and “sanabitur anima mea”.

    Ultimately, neither clergy nor laity are the proprietors of the liturgy to organise and dispose of it as we think best but its servants (speeches of John Paul II, 27 October and 30 November 1984).

  25. David says:

    Hi Fr John

    I agree that we shouldn’t simply be p.c., and there should always be a good reason for the things we do and say. But words are important. For me it’s not really so much an issue of PC-ness or not. I think every Catholic knows priests are different because of their ministerial ordination, and also because of the lives they lead (or should lead). I know many holy men who are priests and whose lives witness their priesthood wonderfully.

    However priests (including bishops especially) hold almost all the levers of power and have all authority in the Church. They write all the rules in canon law, itself reinforcing their authority, which should be all well and good in a holy institution. The problems come when insecurity turns authority and guidance into despotism, where the rules are used to entrench power, privilege, control and self-indulgence.

    In former times priests were pretty much granted automatic respect because of their office and calling. However, nowadays they, just like all authorities, tend to have to earn respect. The primary way, I think, for a priest to earn respect is to live a good and holy life. This will show itself in the manner he runs his parish or diocese or work, not lording it over the people in his care, not abusing their trust and generosity.

    The problems with the new English translation have nothing to do with rediscovered biblical allusions, all Bishop Risis explanations notwithstanding. These are surely to be welcomed. The problems stem from the fact that the new translation is symptomatic of a power play by a small and very insecure group of authorities that was highly dissatisfied with the post-Vatican II liturgy, and particularly anything American or anything to do with ICEL. Everything I’ve read, and my own experience from the inside points to a wicked and very dis-edifying game of power politics played by the central authority of the CDW, which was aimed at smashing ICEL and wresting control of the vernacular away from English-speaking bishops (i.e. the American church and its tendency to use inclusive language). The CDW succeeded. Our church in South Africa has been a rather helpless and hapless victim of this power play by ecclesiastical heavies.

    For many English-speakers exclusive language is the language of power and domination of men over women, and in the church of an all-male clergy over the rest. To me the Church missed a wonderful opportunity to be inclusive in its new liturgy; but it’s not surprising given the chair of Vox Clara, ICELs new watchdog, Cardinal George Pell, was responsible for holding up publication of the Catechism in English for two years because he objected to its use of inclusive language. He eventually forced the publication of the Catechism in exclusive language. This is the man ultimately holding the levers of power regarding the new translation and he’s not a liturgist or linguist.

    Language is emotive and words are important. This is particularly true in South Africa to the small group of Catholics whose first language is English and who know ungainly prose when they see and hear it, and who are deeply skeptical about the resurgence of clericalism in the under the guise of reverence for the liturgy. In fact the Mass will suffer terribly in the long run because the new English translation is ugly and uses a translation philosophy that is obviously absurd. It is very ironic that this attempt to bring a “higher register”, more reverent language, which will bring stability and reverence to the liturgy will I think end up doing exactly the opposite. I already see it in parishes where priests and people have “inclusivised” the new Nicene translation. Wait until the rest of the Ordinary, Proper and other sacraments are released. We will have a free for all that will be exactly opposite to the universal uniformity that Cardinal Pell and his colleagues want.

    The most worrying sign for me as a Catholic is there is no widespread joy and “aha” about this translation. It is not better than the old; it is just more faithful to the Latin original. So I’m afraid the old will continue because some people will recognise that its English prose is superior and more suited to proclamation than the new. Others will continue to use the old words or will invent new phrases that forty years of liturgical stability in the English language is at an end, brought about by forces in the Church that do not necessarily have your best interests and mine at heart.


  26. Getting back to the point about “my sacrifice and yours” – or, as I still say, “our sacrifice” it always amuses me that so often in the prayer that immediately follows this dialogue between priest and people, the Prayer over the Gifts, a common phrase used in this prayer is in fact “our sacrifice”. In this Prayer over the Gifts the priest is praying with and on behalf of the Church – the community assembled around him where he presides and prays on their behalf, ‘in persona ecclesiae”. Here are some examples: “Merciful God, the perfect sacrifice of Jesus made US your people…” or again: God of peace and love, may OUR offering bring you true worship. Or “God of power, accept the offering of your church…” It is in this context that I identify myself PRIMARILY as a member of the community of the baptised to which I first and foremost belong, a community of saints and sinners in which I am the greatest sinner of all. Yet despite this I have accepted the call to the vocation of the priesthood – Christ’s own priesthood, to which I humbly offer my broken humanity, for that is all I have to offer it. Acting ‘in persona Christi’ is what I do throughout the entire Eucharist from the moment I start the Mass (indeed, ‘remotely’ from the moment I prayerfully put on the vestments). I do not act in persona Christi merely through occasional words that imply I do, but throughout the Liturgy. That is why it is important for me to celebrate with devotion, with reverence, and in a way that the people know Christ’s presence. But before I utter any words “ex opere operato”, I need, outside of the Mass, “ex opere operantis” to be Christ-like in my pastoral dealing with the poor, with the marginalised, with people alienated by the official church (like gays and divorcees). To be obsessed with wording when I am failing in my moral responsibility as a priest is to be hypocritical, a legalistic pharisee.

    As things stand now, I am not replacing the authority of the Church with my private conscience. I travel globally a lot and in the rest of the world they say “our sacrifice”. This wording has not yet been abrogated. When new wording becomes universally promulgated, only then may it become a matter of conscience for me. However, I don’t think this particular part of the new translation will be the issue of conscience for me. My conscience will have to deal with a far bigger question: Is this entire new translation a betrayal of Vatican II? Is it a betrayal of Vatican II’s teaching on collegiality? Indeed, if it is merely the result of a tragic power struggle, is it of God?

  27. Dear Vincent,

    It is only my pleasure! I must admit that so many of these entries can become strident and so often become nothing more than an attack on the characters of other people, rather than the arguing of valid points. I see the point that you make though. I suppose that it would be correct to say that the Mass would be valid but illicit. Highly illicit (just a little joke so that I can get the last word in). Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa!

    Please do not imagine that I think you undervalue the priesthood. All that I was trying to do was to point out that the language we use can influence the way we think of things. It is the same for belief: lex orandi lex credendi, as I so often remind my parishioners. This law of faith and prayer is, however, a two-way street. If what we believe is wrong, then it influences the way in which we pray. However, if our prayer is wrong, it affects what we believe. I think that the same can be said for wrong (or right) practise when it is linked to belief too. If there is a wrong practise, then our beliefs can also become skewed. Let me give you an example. In the parish in which I currently serve, there is the practise of perpetual adoration (24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365.25 days a year even when Mass is being said). Furthermore, communion used to be taken to those present in the chapel (which is outside the church) from the Mass itself. This, I am sorry to say, is wrong practise. What it had led to is people not attending Mass, slipping into the chapel five minutes before Mass ends and still receiving communion. Furthermore, they saw nothing wrong with the practise. This practise implies a kind of division between the Mass and Adoration as if they are two distinct things. In fact, one could choose to go and spend some private time with Jesus in opposition to going to the Mass (which is the CENTRAL mystery and ULTIMATE act of Eucharistic adoration). Now couple to this strong belief in the practise of 24 / 7 / 365.25 (or perhaps I should say because of it) the almost magical notion that if we close the chapel for Mass we will be breaking the cycle. Do you see where I am going with this? The practise had totally divorced the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament from the Mass! People could not see that the Mass is also Eucharistic adoration in fact, THE act of Eucharistic adoration and so there is no breaking of the cycle. Changing wrong practise in this matter is still ongoing in the parish and will still take a while. It takes a lot of education to change what people are doing because they hold so dearly to their practise. Therefore, I think you would agree that we do and what we say does influence the way (and what) we believe. It is for this reason that I believe this notion of the priest being no different can damage what we believe, if we do not at the same time defend his difference in the gathered assembly because of his priestly ordination. In the same way, if we are praying incorrectly at Mass, then our belief will also be altered from orthodoxy to heterodoxy. I do not agree with priests being placed on a pedestal (it embarrasses me terribly), and I do not think that priests are granted a doctorate on every given science and subject through the grace of their ordination. However, I have noticed that it still happens even in the case of the perceived liberal priests even they, in their own way, get put on pedestals by their perceived liberal followers. It is interesting to note, in my experience, that the parishes that have a difficulty with the new translation are parishes where the priest himself has a problem with it. How does his problem with it influence his congregation? Has he given his congregation sufficient preparation and explanation in implementing the changes? The same can be asked for ANY changes in the parish people do not like change. One of the most compelling arguments that I have heard for the more faithful (to the Latin) translation is the fact that the English translation stands extremely far away from the Latin when compared to other languages. Remember that Latin is a precise language, excellent for theology. It says what it means to say without ambiguity. Therefore, should our translation of it not be more accurate to the original meaning? I am afraid to say that modern English usage is becoming poorer, and not richer. However, this is my opinion. Another angle one could look at is the more traditional hymn (strong on theology, not so big on touchy-feelyness my newly made up word: I think you know what I mean) versus the more modern youthful hymn (not big at all on theology, but huge on touchy-feelyness). If we just go for the touchy-feelyness, are we not losing out on the theology and vice versa? The question is this: Where do we draw the line? And so often we forget the fact that the Church is not a democracy, and it is not run by committee. Trust me, sometimes obedience is a hard pill to swallow, but do we truly believe that the Holy Spirit is with the Magisterium, and even with the priests in charge of parishes by virtue of their ordination, to guide them? Sometimes I wonder.

    There you go. Just some of my thoughts to stir up the pot, as you so beautifully put it. Thank you too for your blessings. However, add some prayers too, for we need all the prayers you can offer.

  28. Here are a collection of email responses I received after my initial Southern Cross letter:

    1. Thank you for your Southern Cross letter (8 Sept 09) I could not agree with you more. The new Mass texts jar my soul and bishops who dont utter a word accept it to be OK. They are failing us again. (Layperson)
    2. Thank you for your letter to the Southern Cross. I find Bishop Risi’s articles embarrassing to read.
    It’s interesting that when Antjie Krog translates her own Afrikaans poetry into English, she (naturally) translates the meaning and not the words. And I remember Peter Hebblethwaite writing in his biography of Paul VI that Paul read out loud the first draft translations into Italian as he wanted the Mass to be in good Italian that could be proclaimed well and heard well. Why should we have to put up with bad English? People like Tolkien collaborated on the Jerusalem Bible for the same reason – good English. We are the inheritors of such a beautiful language. What we had, was good English too.
    And Kevin Reynold’s letter confirms yours. Hurley would have been ashamed. Two good letters! But does anyone listen? (Layperson)
    3. This morning my ‘delayed’ copy of the S C arrived and I did so enjoy your excellent Letter. My feelings exactly (and my experience with three Retreat groups this year) – and phrased so well and diplomatically! Yes, what IS the use? Resignation is now my dominant ‘feeling’ on the matter. [ONE SENTENCE DELETED BY WEBMASTER]
    There are ‘things’ I will not say = Apostles’ Creed appears as an alternate and so, if I have the option I use it and not the other awful translation (in every respect); and I refuse to use the ‘I Confess’ I always adopt one of the other Rites.
    You realise, of course, that your contribution will not endear you to our bishops! (Priest)
    4. Larry, we have to accept that some of the bishops really believe that the new translation is a good thing. They don’t see what others see. Perhaps they don’t want to see. It is especially difficult for them to accept that it is the result of a power struggle [Vatican-ICEL] and they are the ones who have lost some of their capacity to look out for the best interests of their people. Who wants to admit that they “missed” what was going on? (Priest)
    5. Thanks for your letter to the Southern Cross piece in response to Bishop Risis latest article. He really thinks that all our Catholics in South Africa would just love the new liturgy if only the priests had given proper catechesis. (Layperson)
    6. I ask you to accept the fact that the 2 parishes I’ve worked in since the changes last Advent have accepted the new translation virtually without a murmur. Mind you, they are predominantly Afrikaans speakers so I suppose the new wording makes no difference to them. (Priest)
    7. Excellent letter of yours in this weekend’s Southern Cross, Larry. But rather subdued and diplomatic for you! Is the feisty old battle-worn Redemptorist to back off the barricades now? (Priest)
    8. I often feel alienated from our Church because of the theology behind most of the homilies we hear and the thinking and theology behind the language and the recent changes in the wording of our Eucharistic celebration. Thank you for your courage to speak a word of hope. (Layperson)
    9. Thanks for your wonderful article in the new issue of the Southern Cross. You express very incisively the sentiments of many people. (Priest)
    10. [Not an emailed comment but a personal anecdote]: A most amusing incident happened in a diocese where I had just begun a mission. I joined some local clergy for Sunday lunch, many of whom did not know me. I was introduced simply as “Father Larry”. As conversation proceeded, one old chap said, “Did you see Kaufmann’s letter in the Southern Cross today? Brilliant! Why can’t our bishops listen to the voice of reason?” Then my host said: This is Kaufmann sitting right here!

  29. Oops! That was bad English! Here IS a collection … Just as well they did not choose me as one of the official translators! Mind you, it also shows that we are only human. Even translators make mistakes.

  30. On the question of translators. It is interesting that one of the causes for the delay in the publication of Pope Benedict’s encyclical “Caritas in Veritate” was because they could not get it translated INTO Latin! (The official language of the Church). This beggars the question: when it comes to prayer, our heartfelt prayer to God (and this includes the Liturgy), who actually prays in Latin is in their mother-tongue? So what’s so sacrosanct about Latin and the obsession about translating IT into the vernacular? Should we not be composing our Liturgical prayers in the vernacular and send THAT to Rome to be translated into Latin, and be filed there somewhere in the archives? Just a thought!

  31. … AS in their mother-tongue, sorry (again)

  32. Martin Keenan says:

    Fr. Kaufmann has made four unfortunate errors of fact in his post 26, and compounded them with a lamentable lapse of manners and good taste, none of which can pass unchallenged.

    Fr. Kaufmann: (1) ” . . it always amuses me that so often in the prayer that immediately follows this dialogue between priest and people, the Prayer over the Gifts, a common phrase used in this prayer is in fact ‘our sacrifice’.”

    (1) As regards the 1973 ICEL text of the “prayer over the gifts” for Masses on Sunday, the phrase “our sacrifice” occurs precisely once each year – on Sunday 20 in ordinary time. Whether the phrase “our sacrifice” represents an accurate translation of the Latin here, I cannot say.

    What I do know is that in the second half of the prayer which the priest recites quietly at the altar before washing his hands, the Latin reads: “et sic fiat sacrificium nostrum in conspectu tuo hodie, ut placeat tibi, Domine Deus” which ICEL 1973 translates as “be pleased with the sacrifice we offer you”.

    Fr. Kaufmann: (2) “I travel globally a lot and in the rest of the world they say ‘our sacrifice’. (3) This wording has not yet been abrogated. (4) When [the] new wording becomes universally promulgated . .”

    (2) Fr. Kaufmann can – at best – have intended to say “the rest of the English-speaking world” (see my post 6 above), and even there he is wrong. The bishops’ conferences of England & Wales and Scotland never accepted the ICEL translation “our sacrifice” and made a point of insisting on “my sacrifice and yours” (see footnote on p. 37 of “The New Sunday Missal”, Collins, 1984 and the CTS Order of Mass, new edition 2003 at p.17).

    This means (a) it is not true that even the rest of the English-speaking world prays “our sacrifice”; and (b) the English/Welsh and Scottish hierarchies thought there was sufficient of a point to make it worth while taking a stand on it against the old ICEL.

    In these circumstances it can only be foolhardy for individual priests to stake out a maverick position adverse to the judgement of their own bishops – especially where that position appears to be grounded in ecclesiology and doctrine. It is the bishops who hold the teaching office, not Fr. Kaufmann. Most of the other vernacular languages, including Afrikaans, use the two pronouns, remember; and every English-speaking bishops’ conference bar none has approved the new ICEL translation of the Order of Mass.

    (3) There is no question but that the SACBC (with approval from Rome) mandated the use of the new English translations of the Ordinary of the Mass Part I here as from the first Sunday of Advent 2008, and the 1973 ICEL version has thereby been abrogated to that extent.

    (4) The new English translations will never be “universally promulgated” since it is the distinct responsibility of each national bishops’ conference (international, in the case of the SACBC) to make its own decision on the choice of translation. The desire to coordinate the implementation of the new text in each of the English-speaking countries (as to which the SACBC jumped the gun on the Ordinary of the Mass, Part I) is a separate issue entirely.

    The right and proper course would have been for Fr. Kaufmann to suppress the insolent, ill-chosen and insulting references to a certain individual when regaling readers with the contents of his email inbox. Absolutely nothing is to be gained from personalising issues. I hope and trust the administrators of this blog will take the necessary and appropriate steps to correct this lapse themselves.

  33. Fr Russell Pollitt says:


    I find your tone and aggression so sad. Is this all about facts and law? Almost all your posts are trying to ‘put others right’ Have you considered that other people might just have an opinion, from their experience, worth at least considering and pondering? The exchange between Fr John above and Vincent shows that true dialogue is discovered in our ability to (at the very least!) be willing to listen and concede that maybe some other points of view have some validity – especiallywhen they have a breadth of experience! Might it be right and proper that the response of Catholics is shared so that it is clear that a number of voices share the same opinion and it is not just some ‘maverick’? It is a shame that so many lay-people and priests will bemoan this translation but not publicly speak out. Is that honest? Or, are we that afraid of the truth? Just take a few minutes to consider that someone else may have something constructive and useful to say despite your disagreement! At the very least I am sure thats what our Lord would expect of us all.
    You speak of ‘abrogated’ Does that mean that parishes who are not using it are celebrating invalid masses? I know of more than 5 such parishes! Where does this leave us? In a BIG mess!

  34. Martin, you are right. I have sinned. I beg God’s forgiveness… and yours.

  35. Martin Keenan says:

    Merely to be wrong is not a sin, Father Kaufmann. Your errors did not offend me, but your publication of email 3 in your post 28 was, and is, a scandal.

  36. Martin Keenan says:

    Much as I deplore the personalisation of issues here (how can my style of blogging oh so many facts! and daring to cite a Conciliar Constitution! be of the slightest relevance to the points I have made?), Fr. Pollitt has impugned my motives and so I shall reply at length to his latest post in due course.

    Meanwhile, since he has evoked the spectre of invalidity of the Sacraments resorting precisely to the scare tactics of the more extreme elements who opposed the introduction of the Novus Ordo I ought to deal with the subject-matter of his last paragraph.

    A Jesuit will certainly know the distinction between liceity and validity. At some stage, degradation of the priest’s absolute duty to the Church and to the People of God to celebrate the liturgy in accordance with applicable norms will imperil the validity of the sacrament (John Paul II, Apostolic Letter, Vicesimus Quintus Annus, 10), but misplaced loyalty to a text previously licit will not, of itself, render the sacrament invalid.

    The “mess” alluded to by Fr. Pollitt is a mess in specific parishes and is, ultimately, attributable to the priests to whom the spiritual life of those parishes has been entrusted. It is a betrayal of their sacred responsibilities and of their duty of leadership and obedience. The same might be said for the wanton publication of views which can only stir up ill-will and cause scandal.

    “It is the responsibility of every priest to provide a witness and a service of communion not only for the community directly taking part in the celebration, but also for the universal Church, which is a part of every Eucharist” (John Paul II, Encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 52). See also the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, n.7. Even if there were unity on the subject within South Africa (and the current protests are very much Gauteng-centred) the liturgy is not the possession of arbitrarily formed national or local groups of Catholics, as to which see my post 24.

    “Our time calls for a renewed awareness and appreciation of liturgical norms as a reflection of, and a witness to, the one universal Church made present in every celebration of the Eucharist. Priests who faithfully celebrate Mass according to the liturgical norms, and communities which conform to those norms, quietly but eloquently demonstrate their love for the Church” (John Paul II, ibid.).

    Despite the best efforts of some to decry liturgical norms as such, there is no form of the Mass not even in the chaotic free-for-all which Fr. Kaufmann recommends in his latest post which can proceed without norms, for without norms, there can be no “form” of the Mass and every celebration will become ex tempore more or less: a development reprobated by Church Councils in Africa from as early as the 5th century.

    Repudiation of the authority of the bishops united under the successor of Peter is a repudiation of the Church’s Apostolicity and a self-severance from Christ. It’s an old problem in Africa:-

    Council Of Carthage, AD 419

    CANON 10

    “Of presbyters who are corrected by their own bishops. ALYPIUS the bishop, a legate of the province of Numidia, said: . . if by chance any presbyter when corrected by his bishop, inflamed by self-conceit or pride, has thought fit to offer sacrifices to God separately [from the authority of the bishop] or has believed it right to erect another altar, contrary to ecclesiastical faith and discipline, such should not get off with impunity. Valentine, of the primatial see of the province of Numidia, said: The propositions made by our brother Alypius are of necessity congruous to ecclesiastical discipline and faith; therefore enact what seems good to your belovedness.”

    CANON 103

    “Of the prayers to be said at the Altar. THIS also seemed good, that the prayers which had been approved in synod should be used by all, whether prefaces, commendations, or laying on of the hand, and that others contrary to the faith should not be used by any means, but that those only should be said which had been collected by the learned.”

  37. Vincent Couling says:

    Dear Fr Russell,

    You are not alone in finding the tone and aggression of Martin Keenan to be sad. I have come to realise that his understanding of the word “authority” differs irreconcilably from mine, and so we speak a fundamentally different language, even where we might sometimes use the same words. I have no doubt that Martin is a good and faithful Catholic. But I fear that he might believe that those who diagree with him are not good and faithful Catholics – indeed, they might have, in some cases, even severed themselves from Christ, possibly without even having realised it! In a previous post, Martin informed me that I am not a Catholic in good standing! That is his haughty way of dealing with those who dare to question. Martin can only see the lamentable lapse in manners and good taste of others, not in himself. Perhaps Martin is spotless and without blemish. To be honest with you, I find Martin to be an extremely frightening fellow.

    The idea that the universality explicit in the word “Catholic” means the embracing of differing views, a plurality of ideas, seems to be anathema to Martin. He seems to enjoy a triumphalist neo-Scholastic ecclisiology, the sort which trumpets the lie of 2000 years of unchanging Church teaching, even where morals are concerned. The idea of evolution of doctrine, and of ecclesia sepmer reformanda est, would be beyond the pale. An explicit example of this in his previous post is the statement that “Repudiation of the authority of the bishops united under the successor of Peter is a repudiation of the Churchs Apostolicity and a self-severance from Christ.”

    Well, perhaps what is being repudiated is the authoritarianism, rather than the authority, of a few curial bishops, who are acting without due regard for the collegiality demanded by the Second Vatican Council. Perhaps what is being repudiated is the appointment of bishops based on superficial criteria such as their fidelity to disputed moral teachings (e.g. the intrinsic evil of artificial contraception and homosexual sexual intimacy), rather than on essential criteria, such as their pastoral duty as shepherds to strengthen the weak, heal the sick, bandage the wounded, seek out the stray and bring back the lost. Perhaps what is being repudiated is the appointment of bishops without consultation of the wishes of the clergy and lay faithful (I can think of a spectacular case in Austria, where the road to the Cathedral was littered with lay faithful lying down to block the approach of the candidate on the way to his consecration, such was the outrage at a conservative appointment – an appointment which was later deposed by the red-faced Vatican bureaucracy when allegations of sexual molestation surfaced).

    Perhaps “authority” might mean something more creative than legalistic. The root of the word is augere, which is the same root for “author” – and it means to increase, to promote, to originate. God is, of course, the ultimate author of all that is. The word “authority” most certainly does not mean to stifle, to suppress or to impose from on high! Bishops have authority when they consult broadly, when they shepherd to all (and especially to the most despised and marginalised), and when they are collegial rather than authoritarian. At least, that is how I see it. Hopefully my thoughts have not severed me from my Lord and Saviour!

    Fr Russell, keep up the good work … I’m convinced that your efforts are greatly appreciated by “the many”.

  38. Martin Keenan says:

    Part 1 of a three-part reply to Fr. Pollitt SJ at post 33

    Dear Fr. Pollitt (the courtesy is not formulaic),

    This is a very long apologia in reply to your criticism of my “style” and to your aspersions on my motives, so I have divided it into three posts. People are welcome to scroll past. I am not foisting my views on anyone; equally, there is no call for you to try to impose your literary and dialectical preferences on me.

    I cannot accept that it is fair to upbraid me for correcting people when they make demonstrably false statements which bear directly on points in issue. Opinions are not sacrosanct. We are obliged to test their validity, and if they are ill-formed or based on misconceptions, or propagate errors, we have a duty to correct and challenge them robustly if need be. You apparently take the view that such a course is reprehensible. We will have to disagree on whether it be so.

    Nor will we agree that my tone is aggressive (itself, a matter of opinion). (A) I called one of your points “crude”, meaning it was both crude in itself and crudely put: “trying to kick Vatican II out” hardly encourages rational discussion. (B) Fr. Kaufmann obviously revels in his role as “maverick” (read email 7 quoted in his post 28), and I doubt he took it as an insult (nor was it intended as one). (C) I stand by my reaction to the content of email 3 in his same post. I have tried to be scrupulous in addressing arguments not personalities.

    You ask “is it all about facts and law?” Who suggests it is? The only law I cited was the primary norm in the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy which is perennially relevant, and I resent all attempts to drive it (or any of the Council’s actual teaching) into intellectual quarantine.

    You then imply I am unable to grasp that other people might legitimately hold views opposed to mine specifically that I have not adequately pondered Fr. Kaufmann’s or your opinions, or taken into account the possibility that they might contain something of value.

    The real problem is perhaps that I have taken them too seriously. Maybe they should be read as effusions of spleen lathered with moonshine? I think not. I credit both you and Fr. Kaufmann with meaning what you say, and you should be prepared to defend it if challenged.

  39. Martin Keenan says:

    Part 2 of a three-part post in reply to Fr. Porritt SJ

    You can readily see from my posts that I have refrained from disputing aesthetic opinions as much as possible, and that I have certainly ignored vulgar abuse (“lawyer” is code for “pharisee” is it not? see post 12).

    I know perfectly well that the new text stimulates divergent reactions, and that nothing I can say will alert you, Fr. Kaufmann, or “David” (another priest, I think) to what is admirable in it although I sincerely hope you will appreciate its stately beauty in due course but after almost a year, surely we ought to have been able to transcend the bandying of dull repetitive abuse such as: “the new translation is simply ugly”. That is a dead end, not a step in dialogue.

    In any case, Fr. Kaufmann did not confine himself to matters of opinion, and I engaged at various levels with his argument on the translation “my sacrifice”. I quoted the Catechism, St. Paul, and the teaching of the Second Vatican Council; I quoted translations of the same passage in various other languages; and I invited Fr. Kaufmann to reflect on a certain inconsistency in his own usage and practice.

    To none of those points has Fr. Kaufmann or any contributor to this thread responded. So much for debate.

    Instead, he raised entirely new points at post 26 which were also manifestly wrong, some of which I have already rebutted and which he has now, quite possibly, admitted at post 34. The substantive opinion he ventured at post 26 that the priest acts “in persona Christi” throughout the entire Mass is simply untenable, is it not?

    Your own view (surely a wildly over-stated one) is that all-in-all the arguments in favour of the new translation lack substance. According to you “it is not really about language” and “this so-called need to be faithful is a big smoke screen for another agenda”.

    That is a shameless and unwarranted imputation of bad faith and dishonesty to those who admire the work of the reconstituted ICEL, and I did not dignify it with comment. Instead, I offered three major arguments which justify the translations.

    You chose not to respond to them, but sought to engage me on quite other grounds which start from the premiss that my motives are unworthy and (absurdly) that I failed to attend to what others are saying. This, too, is unhelpful on your part.

  40. Martin Keenan says:

    Part 3 of a three-part post in reply to Fr. Pollitt SJ

    In my latest post before your intervention, I charged Fr. Kaufmann with material factual errors. It was necessary for me to make good that claim, so I cited the relevant details. If I provided the means for him to see what my argument is and to correct me if I am wrong, am I to be condemned for integrity as well?

    Nobody can deny that the row over the new translations has brought some deep-seated hostilities, resentments and anxieties to the surface in certain circles within the Church. I grieve to find you exhibit several of them in your own posts. It remains unclear which are are boils, which abscesses, and which are phantom. The question is whether those sore points whatever they are can be salved before they make a scandal and a mockery of the sacred liturgy.

    To achieve this, the translation issues must first be separated out and subjected to calm, thorough, rational investigation even if the process is tedious. That is what I have been labouring at here. In its own way, it is a search for the truth. There is hot air aplenty; a few facts and some law will not go amiss.

    Just consider: if you tell me you hate Mr. X because he dyed his hair green yesterday, the fact that he is congenitally bald might appear quite insignificant in the overall scheme of your unresolved anger management issues; but even if there is nothing I can contribute by way of therapy, I can at least try to get you to recognise that the problem, whatever it is, lies not in the colour of Mr. X’s hair.

    My last point must be serious.

    Has it never occurred to you that someone of simple faith might be troubled by what certain clergy and religious write in “The Southern Cross” all too often without any sense of restraint? Bishop Dowling’s article “Why the Liturgical Anger is Fair” egregiously offended in this respect, and Fr. Kaufmann’s puckish streak (applauded by Fr. Reynolds and defended by you) is leading him and others dangerously close to larking about with holy things.

    Such a person might be consoled to learn the argument is not all one way.

    May the Blessed Virgin Mary Assumed into Heaven, Patroness of South Africa, Mother of God, Mother of the Church, intercede for us at the throne of grace.

  41. Fr Russell Pollitt says:

    Dear Martin

    ‘Boils’, ‘abscesses’ and ‘phantom’. Shuu. Guess I am very unhealthy, you are right! Fight the good fight! Pray for me! Pray for us! God Bless.

  42. Martin Keenan says:

    It is the afflicted Body of Christ I was referring to, Father.

    God Bless

  43. Gerald Maidens says:

    Dear Martin and all correspondents
    I must say that as a man of very simple faith, I find it strange the manner in which the Bishops of Southern Africa handled the whole liturgical language change. Rome itself instructed that the English translation was not complete and that it was not to be implemented. Our Bishops went ahead ordering our parishes to do so. When they were pulled to task by Rome to stop, they appealed this, citing as Bishop Rissi put it in a letter, that the Bishops didnt understand that the document given to them by Rome was to not implement. Upon winning their appeal to Rome, Bishop Rissi is now telling us all in a letter that the implementation happened because the priests implemented the language changes and the Bishops couldnt stop them. One of these 2 statements as to why the language change went ahead is a lie. Quite honestly, this is unacceptable. What lay Catholic must put their obedience and trust in a Bishop who cant tell us (and Rome?) the truth?!

  44. Martin Keenan says:

    Dear Gerald,

    I am not authorised to speak on behalf of Bishop Risi or the SACBC, and it is quite difficult to track down the relevant documents that are still available online, but you have misread Bishop Risi’s latest update (23 August).

    He doesn’t say there that (as you put it) “priests implemented the language changes and the Bishops couldnt stop them”. What he said was “we reached the point . . where we either had to say to [certain priests] ‘You are out of order’ or to bring everyone on board together”.

    If the SACBC had fully appreciated that the new translations were not to be used until the whole Roman Missal was ready, they would have realised (as they did not) that the option “to bring everyone on board together” did not in fact exist, and that they would have to tell the gun-jumpers “you are out of order”.

  45. David says:

    @ Fr John wrote above
    “Remember that Latin is a precise language, excellent for theology. It says what it means to say without ambiguity.”

    Yes, Latin syntax is precise, but I must respectfully disagree that Latin phrases are not ambiguous. Latin is a very sparse and terse language where the same words and phrases can have multiple meanings which may only become clear when one knows the context, author and audience. That is why a word for word literal translation of Latin is really absurd without interpretation. One has to >interpret< Latin to translate the message correctly, particularly when Latins vocabulary is so much smaller than Englishs and its syntax so different to Chinese, for example.

    Take “spiritus” and a small phrase like “et cum spiritu tuo”, which is literally translated in English as “and with the spirit of yours”. But the literal translation is not what it actually meant in the context of a greeting to a Latin speaker in AD 150 or means to a English-speaking participant at Mass in AD 2009. “Spiritus” can mean breath or life or spirit or inspiration or several other things. The phrase “et cum spiritu tuo” would be more correctly translated as “and with your life” or even “and with you”, either of which would be more correct than the contemporary English meaning of “and with your spirit”.

    Over time the ordinary “and with you” meaning of the Latin greeting was rarefied in the rites and eventually the phrase “et cum spiritu tuo” was addressed only to bishops and priests. Various theological interpretations have been given over the ages to explain why the response is the way it is (see Bishop Risis explanation elsewhere on this site for a contemporary example of an old rationale). In modern English, to reinforce the theology, we would say something like “and with the Spirit that dwells within you”, or more poetically “as He is with you”. The Portuguese respond with “He is among us”.

    What does all this MEAN? If one doesnt interpret in translating from Latin or from any language into English one soon runs aground on the rocks of NOT understanding or, worse, MISunderstanding. Thats why the new word for word translation methodology is ultimately destined to fail as a liturgical tool and as a catechetical tool.

    I find it interesting to speculate that, if not updated, the ecclesiastical “up-speak” English that is creeping into the liturgy will eventually diverge so far from contemporary English that it will become in 300 or 500 years what church Latin became to the Romance languages: unintelligible. But I am sure long before that happens good sense will prevail and we will return to dynamic translation; we are just too interconnected now and too aware of history not to do so. In future we should, every 50 years or so, have an updated official translation of the Latin Mass in good formal, beautiful contemporary English verse. (Before that happens, however, we have to overcome the present idiocy that wants that Mass frozen for eternity, where the meaning of the English words are lost and the Mass becomes stale and dead like Latin itself, reduced ultimately to a magical incantation instead of what it should be: a God-centred communal celebration of thanksgiving and remembrance). We live in hope!

  46. Gerald Maidens says:

    Dear Martin

    I know you cannot speak for the Bishops, so try not to. You are not their voice!

    Let us not forget that the Bishops were the ones who instructed the priests to implement the new translation. Bishop Risi wrote on 9th November: “The first Sunday of Advent, November 30, will see the first phase of the introduction of the new English translation of the Mass. To facilitate this phase the Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference has produced a leaflet which can be carried by congregants in their missals or provided at the doors in the benches of parish churches and oratories for use during the Mass.” So to use ” gun-jumpers” is wrong cos these priests were following the orders by the Bishops. In fact, November 9th 2008 was the Bishops instructing, so why then blame the priests? It is not wrong to point out that a Bishop can be wrong.


  47. Martin Keenan says:

    Dear Gerald,

    Your post at 44 was addressed to me, so I replied. I am not sure why you want to rebuke me for my reply. I was only trying to assist.

    Just looking at the facts you have assembled, I can’t see the problem. The “gun-jumping” would seem to refer not to the period between 9 and 30 November, but to some time before 9 November.

  48. Martin Keenan says:

    Gerald: “Your post at 43”, sorry . . and addressed not just to me, of course, but it did name me.

  49. Martin Keenan says:

    David @45: “The phrase ‘et cum spiritu tuo’ would be more correctly translated as ‘and with your life’ or even ‘and with you’, either of which would be more correct than the contemporary English meaning of ‘and with your spirit’.”

    The Latin phrase “et cum spiritu tuo” (and the Greek phrase it translates) was never a response to an everyday secular greeting. It is a specifically Christian liturgical formula with scriptural roots.

    The ceremonious exchange of spiritual greetings at Mass is a re-working of a formula found in Sacred Scripture:- “Boaz himself came from Bethlehem and said to the harvesters, ‘The LORD be with you!’ and they replied, ‘The LORD bless you!’ ” (Ruth.2:4). Similarly, the angel saluted Our Lady: “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.” (Lk.1:28).

    The Pauline Letters exhibit an adaptation of it, used as a farewell: “The grace of [the/our] Lord Jesus be with you” (1Co.16:23; 1Thes.5:28; 2Thes.4:18). There are longer variants (2Co.13:13; Eph.6:23f.), and shorter ones (“Grace be with you”: Col.4:18; 1Tim.6:21b; Ti.3:15c; Heb.13:25).

    But in four places in the Pauline Letters, instead of the simple pronoun “you”, we find the precise Greek phrase rendered into Latin as “[et] cum spiritu tuo” (Gal.6:18; Phil.4:23, 2Tim.4:22; Phm.25.). Sometimes “with you”; sometimes “with your spirit”. They may “effectively” mean the same, but how can it be “incorrect” to recognise the distinction?

    The four major recent Catholic translations of the Bible into English consistently translated the relevant phrase as “with your spirit”: JB (1966), NJB (1985), NAB (1986), and NRSV (Catholic edition, 1991).

    Not “with you”; not “with your life”.

  50. David says:

    @ Martin
    “was never a response to an everyday secular greeting”
    Did I write that it was? I shouldn’t have.
    “…our major recent Catholic translations…”
    Yes, the modern translators of the liturgy would do very well to learn from the methods used by the translators of the Bible instead of inventing their own new (untested and idiosyncratic) translation methodology. But I don’t think modern English translations of the New Testament have much to add for/against the original MEANING of the Latin greeting in the Mass.

    But rather than rely on the invincible ignorance of the correspondents (including me) and sterile dialogues , I refer all readers to the works of
    . Josef Jungmann, SJ particularly
    . Keith Pecklers, SJ
    . J.D. Crichton

    David (signing out for now).

  51. David says:

    problems interpreting the SCross’s comments engine: the works are

    . Josef Jungmann, SJ particularly The Mass Of The Roman Rite : Its Origins and Development
    . Keith Pecklers, SJ Dynamic Equivalence: The Living Language Of Christian Worship
    . J.D. Crichton Christian Celebration: The Mass

    David (signing out for now).

  52. Martin Keenan says:


    If you weren’t referring to secular use of the phrase, I don’t know what you meant by “the literal translation is not what it actually meant in the context of a greeting to a Latin speaker in AD 150”.

    The only context to a Latin speaker in AD 150 (or at any time) was the ceremonious Christian liturgical context, with its very specific scriptural reference.

    The English response “and also with you” is neither ceremonious, nor spiritual, nor does it convey any scriptural reference.

    And yes, I know that Jungmann wrote in “Missarum Sollemnia” that “et cum spiritu tuo” equates to “with you”, but he added a footnote showing that, by the 4th century (he quotes St. John Chrysostom), the response in the Greek East was understood as referring in a very particular way to the descent of the Holy Spirit on the priest – a point which takes us back, quite neatly, to the fons et origo of this present thread (Fr. Kaufmann’s self-understanding of his priestly role at Mass).

  53. Martin Keenan says:

    In any event, the opinions of the individuals David cites as to the “meaning” of a phrase, carry little weight in assessing its “correct translation” when more or less the entire Catholic world beyond the anglophone zone was united in rendering “et cum spiritu tuo” integrally.

    French, German, Italian, Spanish and Polish all give a word-for-word translation of “et cum spiritu tuo”.

    The Portuguese took a rather idiosyncratic approach and translated the phrase differently, depending on the context in the Mass.

    The wider Catholic context (and the practice of the Orthodox is also relevant here) cannot be ignored in these matters.

  54. Lynette Paterson says:

    Thank you for drawing our attention to those sources. I know that in the Portugese the response is not ‘with your spirit’ but (something like) ‘yes/indeed he is amongst us’. So the Latin is not used in all translations. Viva the Portugese! No doubt the autocrats in Rome will get after them next! Besides a bad tranlsation this whole business has also affirmed what many others (on this blog and elsewhere) have said – it is a power game, the rejection of Vatican II and especially the systematic negation of subsidiarity and collegiality (or are our Bishops not sharp enough to see that they also loose because they are losing power?!) The recent SC article in which a Vatican official denied that they are going back on Vatican II says to me more is going on than what we are being told. (Look at our own country and how those in power have denied things which have been absolutely true!) I wonder why we do not seem to have humble servants in Rome? Nothing corrupts like power! Cardinal Napier’s recent response to Fr Kaufmann’s legitimate concerns affirm this attitude: ‘be humble and obey us power wielding men!’ What a shame. I hope to see the day when the Church says sorry to us for this abuse of power. They have already had to say sorry to Galileo (and the victims of clergy sex abuse more recently) An apology will have to come one day for power abuse (like the imposition of this text) for the way women have been treated and to gay people amongst others. Woza the time this happens! It will be a better Church and more like Christ who so often did not accept the abuse of religious power in his time! Why do we? It MUST be challenged in every possible way.

  55. Gerald Maidens says:


    A good reply; cuts to the heart of the faith for me. It is about service and love of God and fellow human beings. Unfortunately, some people in the Church have apower ego and this has become evident. I’m interested in what the Portuguese translation means! How we have lost the plot, it is not about semantics, but rather celebrating the greatest prayer in the Church fully and to bring us closer to God.

    Thanks again.


  56. Martin Keenan says:

    The Latin is most certainly more than “used” in all the translations: it is the indispensable master text for the Roman rite as the Second Vatican Council taught, and semantics (the study of the meanings conveyed by words) is essential to the discussion, not an academic irrelevance. “We pray, not in words taught us by human wisdom, but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words” (1Co.2:13).

    And yes, the Mass is the greatest prayer in the Church universal. As a result of the new English translation, in the Roman rite, everyone now (more or less) prays the same prayer: “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Ro.15:5f.)

    Now consider the Portuguese. In the greeting which opens the Mass, the Portuguese text draws on the exchange in the Book of Ruth (quoted above at post 49):- Boaz himself came from Bethlehem and said to the harvesters, The LORD be with you! and they replied, The LORD bless you! Here, the Portuguese has “Bendito seja Deus que nos reuniu no amor de Cristo” (Blessed be God who unites us in the love of Christ).

    We can all appreciate it when a text seeks to enter into the scriptural antecedents of the Latin text and, as the keynote for Mass, distances us from the every day. The former English version (“and also with you”) was a serious impoverishment in this regard. Perhaps we can inch towards a communion of ideas by recognising where the previous translation was inadequate.

  57. Martin Keenan says:

    The Portuguese translation might offer a bridge for entering into the spirit of the Latin text (and of the new English translation which adheres to it).

    For example, the Portuguese text speaks of “the communion [not fellowship] of the Holy Spirit” (comunho).

    In the confiteor it does not say “I have sinned through my own fault”, but “I have sinned many times (pequei muitas vezes) through my fault, my so great fault (por minha culpa, minha to grande culpa)”.

    In the Gloria it does not say “almighty God and Father”, but “God the Father Almighty” (Deus Pai todo-poderoso) and it has the 5-fold litany (we praise you, we bless you, we adore you, we glorify you, we give you thanks for your great glory [vossa imensa glria]), as well as the triple appeal to the Lamb of God.

    In the Creed it uses the first person singular (“creio”) and the generic Man/men (“por ns, homens”).

    In the Orate fratres it uses the two pronouns (and not the one pronoun “our” which Fr. Kaufmann insists upon using) “o meu e vosso sacrifcio”; and in the people’s response it is not “[for] the good of all his Church” but “for the good of all his holy Church” (toda a santa Igreja).

    Before Holy Communion, the people do not say “I am not worthy to receive you”, but “I am not worthy for you to enter into my house” (eu no sou digno de que entreis em minha morada).

    In all these examples the Portuguese translation (pre-dating “Liturgiam authenticam”) authentically and integrally translates the Latin.

  58. Lynette Paterson says:

    Maybe the problem really is that we have made Latin into an idol. Let’s get rid of the idol and relate to God as we are and where we are. The quicker we realise that God’s langauge is OUR langauge and not Latin then the better for us all. Jesus met people where they are in the Gosples. That’s what we should be aspiring to do. Latin has become a ‘golden calf’ and read waht happend then…

  59. Lynette Paterson says:

    Maybe the problem really is that we have made Latin into an idol. Let’s get rid of the idol and relate to God as we are and where we are. The quicker we realise that God’s langauge is OUR langauge and not Latin then the better for us all. Jesus met people where they are in the Gosples. That’s what we should be aspiring to do. Latin has become a ‘golden calf’ and read what happend then…

  60. Martin Keenan says:

    But it is precisely your own attitude. The golden calf was the fetish the Israelites made for themselves; they didn’t want to wait for Moses, so they worked out a form of worship on their own which was displeasing to God (Ex.32:1-8).

    Pharaoh had been under the same delusion. He thought worship was up for negotiation when Moses asked him to let the Israelites go three days into the desert to celebrate a feast to God (Ex.5:1).

    First Pharaoh said they could worship in Egypt (Ex.8:25); then he said just the men could go (Ex.10:7-11); next, he agreed that all the Israelites could go, but the livestock had to remain behind. Moses replied: “Our livestock also must go with us. Not an animal must be left behind. Some of them we must sacrifice to the LORD, our God, but we ourselves shall not know which ones we must sacrifice to him until we arrive at the place itself.”(Ex.10:26).

    It seems to me that you are confusing private prayer with public worship. God has implanted in us the impulse to worship Him, but it is not up to us to decide how to respond to that impulse. The decision is always God’s.

    The true, acceptable worship is to be conducted by and through the Church Christ founded. Guidance and direction on that subject comes only from the Church acting through the entire college of bishops with the successor of Peter at their head. This is the Church’s constant teaching.

  61. Lynette Paterson says:

    Thanks for the scripture lesson! Are you a scripture scholar? Theologian? Liturgist? Dare I suggest it is your attitude that needs adjusting? (I notice above that others have also suggested this on this blog so you might want to think about that!)

    It is the ‘Latinists’ that have made Latin the golden calf. The Latinists have worked out the way we worship and so we do what they say, wr are held to ransom by them! Latin becomes the langauge of the liturgy much later. If we are to be faithful let’s go back to Aramaic (the language of Jesus) and stop fiddling with a dead language. Let’s face it: this is not about God but about the comfort zone and hearkening back of Latinists to a by-gone era!

    Are we all simply ‘pawns’ that follow bishops? Hmm. Let’s listen closely to those wonderful bishops who moved child abusers around and covered up in the US and Ireland. Evidence suggests that even JP II knew about this and did nothing, ‘the successor of Peter’. Was that the work of God? Was that ‘…the Church acting…’? The ‘college of bishops’ acting together maybe? Mitres do not mean that they have direct monologues with God.

    Who is ‘the Church’? The bishops alone? ‘Guidance and direction’ come from the Church? Vatican II saw the Church as all of us not just bishops. So perhaps the guidance of people on the ground, in the pews, keeping the Church going might be something we could and should take notice of. Indeed we can all make mistakes – even bishops! I hope that does not upset you but it is a fact! ‘…acting through the entire college of bishops…’ We got a problem then right? Not all bishop’s support this translation so who is God speaking too? Only the ones that agree with the power players in Rome? Your understanding of the Catholic Church is naive and immature. Let’s agree to disagree. This whole saga, I say again, has little to do with theology and faithfulness and a lot to do with fearful men in Rome who are losing more and more ground. Instead of engaging with the world we are now trying to escape it by using hot potato, fairly stupid and badly constructed English!

  62. John O'Leary says:

    A little haiku may help:

    “Sabbath is for us,
    but not the other way round.
    How about silence?”

    Strength to you both and hello, Larry and Russell!

  63. Martin Keenan says:

    While reviewing the contents of this thread, I found a comment by Vincent Couling which I had not previously read and which I must address.

    He wrote @37:-

    “In a previous post, Martin informed me that I am not a Catholic in good standing! That is his haughty way of dealing with those who dare to question.”

    He was referring to this post of mine in a thread under Letter of the Week 1 July 2009, “Debate need not be disloyal” where I addressed arguments by Mr. Couling as follows (post 15):

    “You have several times (and again here) stated quite boldly that you do not accept the Churchs authoritative teaching on the particular topics you have mentioned (and others, too, no doubt). Catholics in good standing are not at liberty to take that approach. We have an obligation to give the assent of faith to what the magisterium teaches – and that includes matters on which the ordinary magisterium has pronounced.”

  64. Martin Keenan says:

    Lynette @61. I will try to answer all the substantive points she has made because she is seriously confused and misguided, even on matters which are of great importance. Looking very briefly at her personal attacks, I observe only that it is inconsistent of her to chide me (post 12) for not reading scripture, and then to be sarcastic (post 61) when I not only read it but apply it.

    Here I shall respond to her comments on the translation; in my next post I reply to her comments about leadership in the Church.

    Item: “The Latinists have worked out the way we worship and so we do what they say, we are held to ransom by them!”

    I do not know who is meant here by “the Latinists”, but the liturgy in the Church in Africa (meaning the Roman province of that name, which roughly corresponds to modern day Tunisia) was conducted in Latin from at least the second century. The great theologians and leaders of the Church in Africa (until Christianity was all but swept away by Islam in the 7th and 8th centuries) all spoke and wrote in Latin. From this historic Church and from other sources too, we now possesses a great treasury of Latin prayers that slowly evolved over many centuries in harmony with the Church’s rites.

    The Fathers of the Second Vatican Council were profoundly aware of this Latin heritage and insisted that it be maintained and preserved. In making provision for the translation of the prayers (and scripture readings) into the vernacular, they desired that this treasury might be made accessible to all.

    Item: “Let’s . . stop fiddling with a dead language”.

    Lynette seems to be confusing two issues (1) the faithful translation of the Latin master text of the Mass, and (2) the growing interest among certain circles within the Church in many countries for Mass in Latin (either according to the Novus Ordo, or according to the Missal of Blessed John XXIII). I have nothing to say in this thread on (2), since it is irrelevant to the subject-in-hand.

    Item: “Not all bishops support this translation so who is God speaking to? Only the ones that agree with the power players in Rome?”

    The Council made no provision for popular involvement in the revision of the Order of Mass or in the approval of translations. These were and are matters entrusted to experts and bishops alone. Even at the level of the bishops’ conferences (which had the primary responsibility, subject to the Apostolic See, for approving the translations) it is obvious that unanimity is hardly achievable; so, for a translation text to be approved, a two-thirds majority vote of all the bishops eligible to vote was required.

  65. Martin Keenan says:

    Lynette @61, Part 2

    Item: “Are we all simply pawns that follow bishops?”.

    It’s a joke from chess, I suppose (although in chess all the pieces are moved by a higher power and the bishop, although useful, possesses no vast power or value). The Church, precisely because she is is the People of God must have a governing structure – even a democracy has one, for we cannot all be leaders, and we cannot all be followers, nor can we all be leaderless. We follow our leaders in the Church in part because Our Lord said “He who listens to you listens to me” (Lk.10:16; cf. Mt.10:40) and in part because of the great Petrine texts (Mt.16:17-19; Lk.22:32; Jn.21:15-19), but principally because the hierarchical structure was established by Our Lord when He chose and commissioned the Apostles.

    Item: “Who is the Church? The bishops alone? Guidance and direction come from the Church?”

    The governing structure of the Church is divinely instituted. It is called “hierarchical” because the Church is led by bishops in communion with the Supreme Pontiff. They have the task of sanctifying, teaching and governing. This is the constant teaching of the Catholic Church, and it was re-affirmed by the Second Vatican Council.

    The only point I was making about Church leadership (and yes as if it were necessary to state the obvious individual bishops and bishops’ conferences can and do make mistakes) concerns the regulation of the liturgy, as to which the Second Vatican Council was emphatic. It is unnecessary to quote again the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (n. 22), but that is what I was referring to when I wrote “Guidance and direction on [worship] comes only from the Church acting through the entire college of bishops with the successor of Peter at their head.” See my post @11 above.

  66. John O'Leary says:

    Sabbath made for us,
    but not the other way round.
    Law, love and language?

  67. John O'Leary says:

    Herbert McCabe has a wonderful book that everyone engaged in this debate might enjoy. It is called Law , Love and Language and was published by Sheed and Ward, London 1968

  68. Lynette Paterson says:

    “…she is seriously confused and misguided, even on matters which are of great importance…” Quite frankly I would prefer to be ‘confused’ and ‘misguided’ than have the fascist approach to things that Martin Keenan seems to have. Thanks for pointing that out to me. I notice on this page that Martin has not conceded anything to anyone, he always believes he is right. I notice that even Fr Larry’s pastoral experience (as Fr Russell mentions) holds no water. How can anyone possibly challenge Martin, not even a good priest of the Church can! “Law, love and language” might well be worth a read. Thanks!

    Bottom line? I know what I believe – and what I don’t and will never believe – and I am happy and feel like I am a faithful Catholic in good standing. In fact my conscience is VERY clear on these matters. The Church is WRONG in some areas. It’s that simple. I can live with the fact that the Church is simply wrong in some respects. That’s how it is and nobody can take that away from me.

  69. David says:

    I am sure you will agree that appealing to the divine origin of the order of bishops is not an justification to suspend one’s intelligence, common sense and conscience. Divine right does not confer infallibility in general, let alone in matters of translation. Conscience has trump divine right for individuals, or we end up with an ecclesiastical version of the Nuremberg Defence.

    Because the bishops hold divine right and all authority they have an obligation to respect the sensus fidelium by listening to the laity and taking seriously their objections to the new translation. Otherwise they run the risk of acting like modern-day pharasees.

    What Lynette is saying is that the SA bishops are JUST NOT listening and in fact are being thought of as quite dishonest in the reasons they advance for the new translation. They are therefore failing in their leadership, and no amount of appealing to divine right will change that perception.

    If I was a bishop the above would give me serious cause for reflection and concern, no matter how in the right I might think I am. I would ask myself why are people like Lynette so upset about this issue and is it SO important that we risk so much unhappiness and disruption to satisfy others so far away. In fact, as a bishop I would thank Lynette for pointing out “the emperor” really has no clothes, and ask her and others what we could do to make our worship better. Only then and after much reflection and prayer would I decide what to do.

    But if as a bishop all I ever talk to are others who think like me…?!

  70. David says:

    Or a simplistic view in symbols
    ( “>” = “is greater than/more important than”)
    (God) > holiness > conscience > theology > law > divine right

    (“->” = “informs”)
    divine right -> law -> theology -> conscience -> holiness

  71. Vincent Couling says:

    The statement “and yes as if it were necessary to state the obvious individual bishops and bishops conferences can and do make mistakes” from post no 65 above refers. Now I couldn’t agree more. And this applies to the Bishop of Rome no more and no less than to any other Bishop. As does it to those Bishops leading and serving on any of the Sacred Congregations. As does it to any curial official.

    As usual, I would like to posit that there needs to be dialogue, and evidence of collegial behaviour from our Bishops. They need to be seen to be genuinely consulting with the clergy and the laity – indeed, they need to LISTEN to their flock. Would it be wrong to say that no one knows the needs of the flock better than the flock itself – unless it is the chief shepherd who has listened to the needs of his flock, and can articulate them convincingly, passionately, wisely – and bravely, if need be – to the curial bureacratic officials in Rome who can sometimes seem so very much out of touch with what is needed on the ground in the far-flung reaches of the “Empire.” [And here I mean spiritual empire – just to pre-empt an excess of spleen.]

    As for the new translations themselves, my Latin skills were never honed beyond the rudiments of a first-year university course (due to time constraints rather than lack of interest), and so I cannot comment but as a layman (though the same might apply to those curial officials who can speak no English!). What I can relate is that the Latin linguists I have discussed the matter with appear to concur – some of these new English translations seem to have the feel about them of attempts by undergraduate students, and would not muster a pass mark on a year-end paper. At the heart of the matter appears to be the dropping of the dynamic equivalence approach in favour of a literal equivalence approach – which appears to have been the decision of a Vatican Congregation (see the CDW’s Liturgiam authenticam) – and not the end-fruit of a process of collegial dialogue involving the People of God, at least in the English-speaking world. For a growing number of educated and thinking Catholics, this is simply unacceptable. And hence the outpouring of anger as evidenced on this blog, among others.

  72. Martin Keenan says:

    Dear David,

    Yes, indeed, there is a pastoral issue for the bishops to address, but I have to ask how wide-spread it is and whether we are not simply seeing a vocal minority attempting to hi-jack public opinion. It is not for me to say, because I have no exposure to opposition except through the pages of The Southern Cross, from which is appears to be concentrated in Gauteng.

    There is also an important pastoral issue arising from the confusion or dismay of those who have gratefully received the new translations but who read imprudent and intemperate attacks (not only on the translations themselves, but on the honesty and integrity of the SACBC, the Curia and the Holy Father) of the kind we have seen in The Southern Cross from (among others) a South African bishop, and several priests and religious. I explained @40 above my concern for lay people who might be offended by these attacks which are long on personal abuse but short on justification.

    As I have also explained, I have steered away from the “aesthetic” concerns in this thread because that is a fruitless field to plough if all we get is the lobbing of epithets such as “ugly”, “tortuous”, “ludicrous” and the like. These are not arguments, but unsubstantiated value judgements. Some people say there are no substantial grounds in favour of the new translations (see Fr. Pollitt, for example, @33). I offered three very substantial grounds @39. Unless people are going to prove my grounds are false, they must find some other argument.

    I think I am correct in saying that in the various online threads in here, you alone have offered serious arguments on the aesthetics of the new translation by quoting and analysing some prayers. Our approach and response to those prayers differs, but it is a topic on which there can be sensible debate without a cloud of dust being thrown up regarding “authority” and “agendas”. The same goes for the more technical translation issues.

  73. Martin Keenan says:

    Dear David (Part 2),

    Despite everything said here about motives and agendas, there is still, at the core of the row, a text which deserves our close and patient attention because it is the text of Holy Mass. When people make erroneous statements about those texts I have challenged and corrected them. I explained and defended my approach @38. If my arguments are to be ignored and if I am to be called a pharisee or a fascist for even presenting them, then so much the worse for The Southern Cross whose reputation can only suffer if it becomes a vehicle for demeaning and vulgar abuse in place of reasoned discussion.

    So far as “translation” issues have been raised here, I have addressed them too, as honestly and as fully as I know how, and no one has yet disputed what I have written. In all the circumstances, the comment “Martin has not conceded anything to anyone” is more than surreal. Yes, I have not conceded that the new translation is “ugly” or “ludicrous”. Is that what this is all about? That I have not changed my own opinion?

    In order to restore some calm, can we at least recognise that nobody is asserting any issue of infallibility over these new translations or over any decisions by the SACBC. I have never appealed to infallibility in support of any of my arguments on the translations. Nor have I said that these are the new translations approved by Rome, live with it. On the contrary, I have conscientiously attempted (within my own limitations) to address every cogent argument offered against them.

    When I referred to the Divinely instituted hierarchical order of the Church that was in reference to the teaching of the Second Vatican Council as presented in chapter III of The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church and as specifically applied in the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy at section III of chapter I.

    If we do not have the explicit teaching of the Council as our immediate reference point, there is no useful point of contact for any communication on the liturgy.

  74. Vincent Couling says:

    An important issue is raised in post no 72: “but I have to ask how wide-spread it [adverse reaction to the new translation?] is and whether we are not simply seeing a vocal minority attempting to hi-jack public opinion.” Of course, it would be a simple matter to ascertain the answer to this question. A questionnaire could be provided at all Sunday Masses in all English-speaking parishes where parts of the new translations have been in use since Advent – responses could be gathered and collated. Indeed, it might be profitable were the Bishops to undertake such a poll – it would certainly provide the CDW with valuable feedback from the only part of the world where the translation experiment has already begun. This, to my mind, would be collegiality in action, the Bishops consulting their flock on the all-important matter of the liturgy of the Mass. And it would bring an end to speculation of where the “silent majority” stand on this issue.

  75. Martin Keenan says:

    (1) This is no translation experiment, and I, for one, have not speculated on the views of the majority (silent or otherwise). The pastoral issue which the bishops must ponder is the virulence of those who publicly oppose the translations for reasons seemingly based on heterodox views of “authority” within the Church.
    (2) The number and general location of these opponents can be discovered from letters published in The Southern Cross and from other sources, including direct communications with individual bishops and with the SACBC.
    (3) Pastors have a duty to listen to their flock but that does not arise from “collegiality”, which only exists within the college of bishops. What we are all hearing is the unCatholic idea of an autonomous English-speaking South African Church cut off from communion with the Catholic Church in South Africa not to mention the Church universal beyond the borders of the Republic.
    (4) The liturgy, precisely because it is the source and summit of the Christian life and affects our salvation, is not a fit subject on which the expression of public opinion can be determinative. This is not a product management issue nor is there policy formulation in process.
    (5) The translations have been lamentably “politicised” as it is, and a questionnaire would further polarise opinion, leading to greater antagonisms than have emerged among the few people participating in this and similar threads here. A prolonged period of silence and reflection is called for.

    I deprecate the fact that Mr. Couling @37 rashly and incorrectly imputed to me uncharitable views on whether he or any identifiable person is or is not “a good and faithful Catholic”. The charitableness of his own post @37, so far as it mentions me, must be viewed in light of the information I gave above @63.

  76. Vincent Couling says:

    Hmmm … “Pastors have a duty to listen to their flock but that does not arise from collegiality, which only exists within the college of bishops.” Surely the Bishops are to represent the concerns of their flock to the College of Bishops? Or are we thinking of the Bishops in a monarchical sense, where they represent their own interests alone?

  77. Lynette Paterson says:

    “The translations have been lamentably politicised as it is, and a questionnaire would further polarise opinion, leading to greater antagonisms than have emerged among the few people participating in this and similar threads here.” Why not have a questionnaire? It is not about being polarised but letting the truth triumph! Let’s be courageous enough to know what the people think. Or might it be that we are afraid of the TRUTH? I’m ready to be ‘proved’ wrong on this issue and that it is only a ‘minority’ that oppose it. I suspect thats the fear = TRUTH! Is any objection to these texts being heard or simply all being marked ‘politicised’? It’s like pulling the race card when you feel you cannot get your way – look how often that happens in SA!

    “A prolonged period of silence and reflection is called for.” INDEED! And I hope that covers everyone and not just those who have questioned this text?

  78. Martin Keenan says:

    Returning to the origin of this thread: Fr. Kaufmann’s assertion that as a matter of conscience (he does not put it in that way, but it appears to be what he means) he will not say “my sacrifice and yours” at Mass.

    He was perhaps deluded as to the status of the new translation in South Africa, but it is neither provisional nor temporary. In accordance with every requirement envisaged by the Second Vatican Council, this is the English translation now in effect in South Africa which he has no authority (whether by appeal to his conscience or otherwise) to amend, substitute or ignore.

    The Latin master text of the 1969 Ordo Missae (as revised by experts in consultation with bishops world-wide pursuant to the mandate of the Second Vatican Council) reads, in the relevant part, “meum ac vestrum sacrificium”.

    In harmony with the long-standing practice of the Church in England & Wales and Scotland (not to mention the practice among Spanish, Italian, German, Portuguese, Polish and Afrikaans speakers and doubtless many others) this is now translated for English-speaking South Africans as “my sacrifice and yours”.

    There is no aesthetic objection here, since the phrase is neither “ludicrous”, “ugly”, nor “tortured”. Nor is it incomprehensible. Why, then, does Fr. Kaufmann reject it in his own Masses and then publicise the fact in “The Southern Cross”?

    There is a conundrum here. Is there a genuine difference (at the level of doctrine or ecclesiology) between “our sacrifice” and “my sacrifice and yours”? If there is none that is to say, if it is merely a “translation” issue how does conscience enter into it? If there is a difference sufficiently grave to justify “conscientious objection”, what makes Fr. Kaufmann think his view is correct and the rest of the Catholic world is in error?

  79. Martin Keenan says:

    Lynette already has an answer to her questions about a questionnaire. See my post @75, point (4).

  80. Martin Keenan says:

    In case she is aggrieved that I gave short shrift to her suggestion:

    a questionnaire covering what, Lynette? Liturgiam authenticam? The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy? The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church? The Congregation for Divine Worship? The Pope’s authority to regulate the liturgy?

    Unless you first tear down that entire structure, the next stage doesn’t arise; but imagine it does, and that the SACBC refuse to approve any liturgical translation without first taking a popular vote.

    Bear in mind there are 3,000 prayers in the Roman Missal, and that the Roman Missal is just one of six liturgical books that are translated into the vernacular. Visit to find out what is involved.

    Staying with just the Missal, what theoretical options exist for the less than 500,000 English-speaking South African Catholics to vote on? I propose a few:-

    (a) Keep the 1973 translation that Fr. Sean Collins thinks is sacrosanct.

    (b) Conduct a line-by-line review of the 1973 translation, with each word of each phrase to be assessed on a score of 1 to 10.

    (c) Introduce the 1998 translation that David thinks is excellent.

    (d) Review the 1998 translation as per (b).

    (e) Commission an English-speaking South African Catholic liturgy free from the official Latin master text (as Bishop Dowling suggested in his article “Why the Liturgical Anger is Fair”). Then wait, say, 5 years and review the Dowling 2014 translation as per (b).

    (g) Keep the 2008 translation as is.

    (h) Review the 2008 translation as per (b).

    (j) If any of options (b), (d), (e) or (h) is approved, there will have to be a vote to decide who will perform the review, and another vote on what translation to use in the interim.

    Quot homines tot sententiae.

    You have not even begun to consider the ramifications of your proposal.

  81. Vincent Couling says:

    Some musings:

    It seems to have been the vision of the Second Vatican Council that the Church is not foremost a hierarchy, but rather the People of God.

    Bishops are pastors, and so cannot arrive at decisions without entering into authentic dialogue with (i.e. listening to and responding to) their flock.

    A pertinent question might be: “Has there been reception of Liturgiam authenticam?” I.e. has it been accepted by the People of God?

    Reception can apply to a local Church as well as to the entire Church (which is a communion of local Churches).

    In the early Church, liturgies – just as with confessions and the decrees of councils – only became authoritative by means of reception.

    If we are to be in continuity with the Church of Peter, surely the same must apply today!

    Was translation by dynamic equivalence an experiment? I seem to recall one senior prelate recently suggesting that it was “in vogue” in the sixties, but no longer. When and why and by the authority of whom did translation by literal equivalence become the latest vogue? Was it by the consensus of the People of God? And how long will this latest fashion last?

  82. Martin Keenan says:

    myself @73

    “When I referred to the Divinely instituted hierarchical order of the Church that was in reference to the teaching of the Second Vatican Council as presented in chapter III of The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church and as specifically applied in the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy at section III of chapter I.

    “If we do not have the explicit teaching of the Council as our immediate reference point, there is no useful point of contact for any communication on the liturgy.”

  83. Lynette Paterson says:

    I am suggesting that the bishops stop and listen to the Church (the people in the pews!!) and find out what they think of this translation. Does it help them worship, pray and relate better to God? Find out from the people who have to use it and not just keep quoting all sorts of references but look at the praxis and effect. Rules are not an end in themselves, they should facilitate a relationship between God and people and if they are not doing that then there is something wrong. That’s my point with this translation: let’s ask and see if it is helpful to people or not. Why are we so fearful of a simple fact finding questionnaire? The latest edition of the Southern Cross proves a complete negation of the concerns of the laity by the Bishops in SA. It proves, again, that the Bishops will just not even dare to listen to us laity – see letter by retired Bishop of De Aar. More than anything it shows and affirms that there is little pastoral concern and a vacuum in leadership in the SA hierarchy. It is poignant that at a time when real leadership is called for there is a huge gulf and non of them is able to step in.

    Let’s wait and see what the rest of the English speaking world does. I bet this will not go down well. I hope that our experience in SA will alert them to the potential problems they face. It would be good if they picked up on blogs like this and published the arguments now already.

    I dislike your ongoing attacks on clergy, Fr Kaufmann and Bishop Dowling, in particular. They are entitled to their opinions and are in fact true shepherds who have the concerns of the people at heart – their sheep – and not a book of rules. They seem to have actually listened to the people – more than any other clergy. You yourself objected to this earlier in the thread. Please refrain from doing this, it is just not acceptable. Thank you.

  84. Vincent Couling says:

    I would like to quote here an excerpt from an interesting, and highly relevant, reflection by Bishop Thomas Gumbleton (see in full at

    In recent weeks, Pope Benedict XVI — every Wednesday he gives a talk to thousands of people in St. Peters Square every Sunday from his window in the Vatican Palace; he blesses the crowd down in the square and speaks briefly — in one of those talks recently, because he has made this what he calls the Year of Priests, he told the crowd that Mary, the Blessed Mother, had (and these are his words) a special affection for priests as her sons because they are more similar to Jesus. In other words, the ordained priest, just by being ordained, has a status that puts him apart from, and obviously above, others in the church.
    Now that isnt the way of Jesus. At the Last Supper, what did he do? He got down and washed the disciples feet, but he was celebrating what we think of as the first Eucharist. He wasnt presiding, overseeing; he was acting as a servant. He had given up power; he didnt need power like that, the worlds power. And here we are, now theyre talking about putting the altar rail back so theres a barrier between the priest and the people, make sure the priest is above and better, holier. Not true!0
    Its a community of disciples that Jesus calls together, where everyone is equal in freedom and dignity. No one is over others, but we seem to have fallen back into that pattern of wanting to have hierarchs in the church, and then obviously, lower-archs, if you want to call them that, the people in the pews. Wrong — thats not the way Jesus intended it. We really have to struggle not to let that happen.
    After the Second Vatican Council, there was a real movement forward to make our church a community of disciples, again everyone equal in freedom and dignity, no one over others. We need to make it become that way again, or even move more fully in that direction, because thats the only way were going to be a light to the world around us, if we really become a servant church and those leading in the church become servant ministers.

  85. Martin Keenan says:

    Show me where I have attacked any priest or bishop personally.

    I have contested their arguments, deprecated the manner in which they have promoted their private views in public, and protested their lack of prudence.

    In here I have reminded people of the teaching of the Catholic Church on the topics under discussion.

    In return I am accused of being a Pharisee, of paying no attention to Scripture, and of having a fascist mentality; and the very person who doesn’t scruple to abuse me in this way resents my interventions, fails to respond to any point I have made, and finally tells me that something I am doing (it is unclear what) is “unacceptable” – to her, presumably.

    Meanwhile, this same person has either misread or misrepresented what Bishop Potocnak wrote in his latest letter printed in “The Southern Cross” from which it is manifest that he does listen to his flock. He is not hearing from them any such objections as have been trailed in this thread by precisely 5 lay people and 3 priests.

  86. Martin Keenan says:

    All the regular contributors to the National Catholic Reporter (of whom Bishop Gumbleton is one, Fr. Richard O’Brien another, and Sr. Joan Chittister a third) have heterodox views on the priesthood, the hierarchical nature of the Church, and other issues too numerous to mention. None of them can be relied on to present the authentic teaching of the Church (although in some – even many – areas their thinking happens to coincide with it).

  87. Vincent Couling says:

    To many of us, making sweeping accusations that certain bishops, priests, theologians and religious have heterodox views pretty much amounts to a personal attack. Who is this (lay!) person who appears to be setting himself up as a gatekeeper of what is orthodox? And on what authority?

    And who of us really knows what Bishop Joseph hears from his flock? He says in his letter “I really find it hard to believe the average Catholic is worried about the wording of the liturgy.” Has he surmised (since this opinion appears to be based on belief, rather than on empirical observation) that since they dutifully and obediently picked up the new translation sheets that they were happy with the new translation? Has he asked any of them personally? And if so, how many of them? Maybe they, like Fr Larry, must “confess to an attitude of resignation.” Perhaps it is an attitude of “why complain – to what end?”

    When Bishop Joseph says “What surprised me is the very strong opposition to these small changes,” one gets the sense that he is aware of some pretty strong opposition. From how many people? He does not say!

    And if we aren’t into asking the laity what they really feel about the new translations, questionnaire style, then let us at the very least be consistent with our guiding principles and not play the numbers game at all. After all, there is, unless my counting has gone astray, precisely one lay person defending the new translations on this thread.

  88. Vincent Couling says:

    If one truly believes that the priest, by virtue of the sacrament of ordination, undergoes some “ontological” transformation, and becomes different to “mere laity,” becoming “more similar to Jesus,” then how can one (as a lay person) dare to accuse an ordained priest or bishop of being heterodox? Is there not some inherent contradiction here? Is this not a classic case of trying to have your cake and eat it? You cannot set the priests and bishops apart, and then dismiss those of them with whom you personally disagree with a sweeping gesture of the hand, a twitching of the raised nostrils and the utterance of the word “heterodox.” The delicious irony of it all simply demands to be savoured!

  89. Martin Keenan says:

    I am accused of making personal attacks: But whether or not a person holds a heterodox view on any aspect of Catholic faith and practice is a matter of fact. Pointing out that fact is not itself a personal attack upon the one who holds it.

    I am accused of contradicting myself: But the Sacrament of Orders does not confer or guarantee faithfulness, obedience, prudence or any other quality. It is beyond dispute that individual bishops and priests can make all sorts of mistakes. Historically, most heresies (not the same as heterodoxy, by the way) have been initiated by priests or bishops.

    I am accused of presumption: But a degree in theology is not requisite to enable one to recognise that espousing women’s ordination and the democratisation of the Church is heterodox, to say the least. Additionally, Fr. McBrien (for one) opines that Eucharistic adoration “is a doctrinal, theological, and spiritual step backward, not forward.” (ncronline, 8 September 2009). Orthodox or heterodox? No prizes offered.

    Nor is it a question of any “personal disagreement” that I have with anyone. Mr. Couling, for example, has asserted in this website heterodox views on (for instance) what counts as magisterial teaching in the first place. The dispute is not between him and me, but between him and the Church. Ponder what Sr. Theresa Kane is reported as saying (headline article on today’s NCR website): Im not out of communion. The institution got out of communion with me.

    There is no good reason why Bishop Potocnak’s pastoral competence should be called into question. What I was referring to in his recent letter was this: “When we introduced the changes in our diocese to the few Church communities that use English, it was accepted immediately.” I have no reason to doubt the bishop’s ability accurately to assess the mood of a “few communities”.

  90. Lynette Paterson says:

    Let’s get back to the issue: an English translation that was imposed on English speaking Catholics which in itself would not pass matric English in SA (and we know that our education system is not the best!) From what I have seen and read this translation also has numerous theological problems – I am not a theologian. The closing of ICEL and setting up of Vox Clara smacks of a power game in Rome. The unwillingness of our bishops to recognise that there are a number of English speaking Catholics who are unhappy with this translation is also very sad, all we get is justifications from them and nobody willing to concede that this is problematic. Their own debacle with Rome over its implementation is in itself a poignant point! Further is the hostile attitude towards those who dare ask if this translation was a good thing or not and the unwillingness to dialogue with them. It is ok for Rome to ‘change’ the rules of translation but not ok for others to question this. The undermining of collegiality and subsidiarity also features. This is an absurb system!

    As for the issue of women priests: it will happen one day, maybe not soon, but it will. Just as married priests will be a reality. As a woman I rejoice in the hope that one day women will stand at the altar and celebrate Holy Mass.

    But there is nothing left to say. The only think that Martin and I have in common is that we belong to the same institution. The rest we probably disagree on. Maybe that’s the one outstanding beauty of the Church – Martin and I are both at home in the same institution but don’t agree on most things! Wow. The diverse Body of Christ in which there is room for us all.

    Signing off for now

    PS When we introduced the changes in our diocese to the few Church communities that use English, it was accepted immediately. Let’s find out how many parishes in De Aar are English – 1, 2 or maybe 3? The dominant language is surely Afrikaans (in the N Cape and Karoo) So, Bishop Potocnak’s competence on this matter is questionable. Just as the head of liturgy lives in an Afrikaans area – are they the best judges of the reception? I think not!

  91. Martin Keenan says:

    Oh dear oh dear. A quiverful of Parthian shots! But I am very glad to find a more irenic tone emerging and I thank Lynette for discovering that we do have a point of contact but it is far wider than she gives credit for. Let me suggest more: we love the Mass, we love the Church, and we pray for the Holy Father, our bishops and priests and all those who have consecrated their lives to God.


    [1] “From what I have seen and read this translation also has numerous theological problems”

    It would be good to hear a single example. In a letter to “The Southern Cross” Fr. Converset alleged that “He descended into Hell” was theologically dangerous or harmful (I forget which), but there have always been two alternative readings at this point “ad inferna”/ “ad inferos”. While it is true the Catechism of the Catholic Church quotes “He descended to the dead” in article 5 of the Creed, it has no difficulty with “the descent into Hell” as such (CCC 632-635). Fr Kaufmann (in the letter which heads this thread) also alleged theological difficulties without identifying any except the “my and your sacrifice” point which has been disposed of, I think so it is a rather an empty objection all round.

    [2] “The unwillingness of our bishops to recognise that there are a number of English speaking Catholics who are unhappy with this translation is also very sad”

    Absolutely they did recognise this fact. See Bishop Risi’s “Pastoral Response” dated 3 February 2009 (available on the SACBC website). The numerous “justifications” (including those in March, May and August this year) are not self-justifications but attempts to lead people to understand the thinking behind the new translation at all the specific points which have been raised. Of course, there is nothing the bishops can say to change the minds of those who think the prayers are “ugly” or “tortured” since that is a value judgement.

    [3] “The dominant language is surely Afrikaans (in the N Cape and Karoo) So, Bishop Potocnaks competence on this matter is questionable. Just as the head of liturgy lives in an Afrikaans area are they the best judges of the reception? I think not!”

    There is no ground for questioning Bishop Potocnak’s competence. As for Bishop Risi, as head of the SACBC Department for Christian Formation and the Liturgy he has reviewed the responses sent to the SACBC or printed in “The Southern Cross” and, no doubt, he has received feed-back from all the bishops, since the “reception” of the new translations featured on the agenda of the SACBC plenaries in January and August this year.

    In the peace of Christ

  92. Vincent Couling says:

    Conservative Catholic bloggers seem, with increasing frequency and fever, to be using the word heterodox as a polemical device to dismiss out of hand the insights of good and holy men and women in the Church, be they bishops, priests, religious or laity. It is, in my considered opinion, an insidious device shamelessly aimed at discrediting faithful, spirit-filled Catholics so that their wisdom and insights may be ignored even if these insights might be at the prompting of the Holy Spirit!

    There are many examples of people who might have been described (by some) as heterodox for a time, but who ultimately were seen to be breaking new and holy ground. I put forward as an example Yves Congar, who had his first major book (True and False reform in the Church, 1950) banned by the Vatican curial apparatus. In 1953 he published Lay People in the Church, and in 1954 the Vatican saw to it that he was banned from teaching, lecturing and publishing. It would appear that to the Vatican, this man was clearly nay, factually – heterodox! Of course, with the benefit of hindsight, even those who love to dismiss as heterodox those others who are currently breaking new ground, would have to call Congar orthodox! After all, the Vatican made him a Cardinal in 1994! This French Dominican is now widely regarded as the greatest ecclesiologist of the 20th century, having been in his day at the very cutting edge in the evolving theology of Church, including the episcopacy, tradition, ministry, laity and ecumenism. His visionary insights set much of the agenda of the Second Vatican Council. And we know how collegiality played out at the start of Vatican II, with the bishops of the world dramatically refusing to accept the curias attempts to control organization of the various Council commissions, as well as refusing to accept curial draft documents, which were very much entrenched in their vision of a triumphalist neo-scholastic ecclesiology. No! The visionaries like Congar, clearly thought of as heterodox by a curial machinery that had seen to his exile from academic life, were seen as orthodox by an overwhelming majority of the bishops of the world! The rest, to use a worn clich, is history. A history some curial apparatchiks seem to have been trying to dismantle, reverse and/or sweep under the carpet ever since.

    Now try as some might to dismiss the likes of Bishop Gumbleton and Fr McBrien as heterodox, the reality is that they are among the true visionaries of our age. In fact, perhaps not unlike our very own Fr Larry Kaufmann and Bishop Kevin Dowling. And they make those who take comfort and delight in the letter of the law quake in their boots! It has not passed unnoticed how the mystics and spiritual visionaries of most ages were often treated with suspicion by the bureaucrats of the Vatican curial apparatus.

    Now I would like to pose a couple of questions to those who allegedly base their labels of orthodox and heterodox on cold, hard facts. Especially in light of St Pauls words that now we see as through a glass darkly, words which recognize that in the metaphysical realm the facts are not always readily accessible to our feeble human minds and their associated egos. [Vatican IIs Decree on Ecumenism” supports this notion even with regard to development in the formulation of doctrine, in no. 6: “Therefore, if the influence of events or of the times has led to deficiencies in conduct, in Church discipline, or even in the formulation of doctrine (which must be carefully distinguished from the deposit of faith itself), these should be appropriately rectified at the proper moment.”] And here I divert briefly to speak not as a layman, but as a professional physicist, who is well acquainted with and thoroughly delighted by the happy catastrophe that occurred in classical physics around the turn of the 19th century when the deterministic absolutism of classical physics begrudgingly gave way to the inexorable theories of the new quantum physics: a physics not of determinism, but of probabilities and of the Heisenberg uncertainty principle. The full ramifications of this physics for theology are probably only just beginning to be worked through and will surely have an even greater impact on new theological insights than Galileos discoveries of 400 years ago did.

    So here are the questions. [1] As regards divorce and remarriage, which has the orthodox and which the heterodox view? The Catholic Church, which forbids divorce and remarriage, since the sacrament of marriage is indissoluble? Or the Eastern Orthodox (every pun intended and rejoiced in) Churches, which maintain the principle of economy, allowing for remarriage after divorce under certain circumstances? (The authority for which is based, of course, on Matthew 18:18 I tell you solemnly, whatever you bind on earth shall be considered bound in heaven; whatever you loose on earth shall be considered loosed in heaven.) Hopefully the self-proclaimed guardians of factual orthodoxy will be aware of the caveat that the Eastern Orthodox Churches are apostolic and catholic and holy indeed, they are our sister churches! [2] As regards the question of who is the minister of the sacrament of marriage, which is the orthodox, and which the heterodox view? (Remember: simple facts, please and no prizes for the correct answer!) The Eastern Orthodox Churches, which hold that the priest is the minister of the sacrament, or the Catholic Church, which holds that the couple themselves are the ministers of the sacrament? There are many more such questions, but I think that there has been enough of an illustration of my point to enable me to somewhat pompously declare that the docket (on the merits or otherwise of a patently simple, factual, legalistic, clear-cut black-and-white assignment of orthodoxy or heterodoxy) is now closed.

    It is possibly of interest to note that the Conciliar documents of Vatican II only use the word orthodox once! No prizes for guessing where!

    What is amply clear about the current translation fiasco is that the spirit of Vatican II seems to be increasingly under threat of abandonment by the now ever-centralising Vatican machinery. And what do I mean by the spirit of Vatican II? What springs foremost to mind is the collegial way in which the bishops operated. The curial dominance of decision-making was scythed down. Now we need to ask ourselves, is this the spirit of the CDW and its Vox Clara and purged ICEL? Or is what some think to be an atrocious new English translation rather the rotten fruit of a tiny cabal of conservative prelates trying to relive what they imagine to have been the halcyon days of a bygone, and perhaps very mythical, golden age? And is the outpouring of upset over this new translation just one tiny symptom of a much deeper malaise in the Mystical Body: the sneaking suspicion that this is all part of a frantic last-ditch attempt to foster a resurgence of that neo-scholastic pre-Vatican II ecclesiology? You know: the one that would have the teaching of the intrinsic evil of artificial contraception raised to the level of infallible, divinely-revealed dogma. Ditto for the teaching which forbids the ordination of women. Or the teaching which forbids gays to enter into covenantal love-relationships. One hears talk that some in the curia might desire a Church which is smaller in numbers, but which to them might consequently seem purer and more perfect implying a purge of the heterodox. Now perhaps what Sr Theresa Kane is saying is that this very flawed and inhuman attempt at perfecting the church by pruning off the imperfect might in fact lead to the throwing of the baby Jesus out with the bathwater, so to speak! Fortunately for us all, the Holy Spirit is clearly irrepressible, and like a mischievous child, pops up in the most surprising of places and usually most creatively at the fringes, collaborating with all the unclean, heterodox sinner-folk who tend to dwell there! Alleluia, thanks be to God!

  93. Gray says:


    You have captured the reactionary Zeitgeist stalking the church very well IMHO.

    The arguments in this thread show an anxiety that the bishops should take to heart. I wonder if they will though, or are even aware of it, or do they have their heads somewhere else? Some Catholics are clearly very angry about the new translation and the offhand, authoritarian, patronising and haughty manner in which some seem to dismiss their deep unhappiness over the new translation. Perhaps the bishops should be asking themselves why there is this anger and unhappiness, and is something important missing in the process?

    The church faces such enormous problems without yet another self-imposed one. We have only ourselves to blame. To Vincent and all those wrestling for the truth please keep up the good fight on behalf of the timid and the disempowered in our ailing church. I hope the bishops do listen about the translation — of the list of issues mentioned by Vincent it’s the most non-threatening and easiest issue for them to do something positive about now.


  94. Gray says:

    Oh, and congratulations to the Southern Cross on your new website. I like it very much, and thank you for giving Catholics the space to debate the issues.

  95. David says:

    Dear Martin

    . “Yes, indeed, there is a pastoral issue for the bishops to address,
    . but I have to ask how wide-spread it is”

    I agree about the pastoral problem the bishops have, but they appear to have given up or are in denial. Many priests are unhappy with the new translation, and we haven’t even implemented the new Eucharistic prayers and the rest of the rites. I know many priests are afraid to voice their opinion in public, some because they don’t want to be disloyal and some because they are afraid. But the almost every priest recognises the pastoral difficulties the new translation presents.

    I think it would help the bishops if they canvass opinion through a professionally conducted anonymous survey. Even if they only canvass their priests I have no doubt they will find widespread unease and unhappiness with this translation among English speakers.

    . “my concern for lay people who might be offended by these attacks
    . which are long on personal abuse but short on justification”

    I would give lay people more credit for being able to distinguish good arguments from bad ones. But I would like to know how many people read the SC website; not too many I think. I am very grateful that the SC at least provides a place for Catholics to debate and voice their opinions. I suspect that some bishops would like the SC to be a top-down, one-way, party newspaper with them as editors-in-chief.

    . ” “aesthetic” concerns… unsubstantiated value judgements”

    The aesthetic concerns about the new translation are paramount I believe. It is very appropriate to debate the aesthetics because of the importance of the liturgy as an expression of who we are as a communion, how we worship and what we believe. The new translation is the symptom, the “rotten fruit” (to use Vincent’s words), of the cause. The cause is the imperious rules of translation laid down in Liturgiam Authenticam and issued by Cardinal Medina in 2001. These rules, themselves the product of a restorationist programme, were foisted on national conferences without consultation or dialogue by the Cardinal and the CWD in 2001. In doing this the CWD knowingly violated collegiality and, many would argue, unethically usurped the authority of the bishops conferences given them by the Second Vatican Council.

    It’s so easy for us in SA to settle for mediocrity as we usually do. Consider the contrast between three ICEL translations below: the original 1973 translation (which we use), the 1998 translation (which should be using but was rejected by the CDW because of its inclusive language) and the yet-to-be-used 2008 translation.


    1973 Translation

    Look with favour on these offerings
    and accept them as once you accepted
    the gifts of your servant Abel,
    the sacrifice of Abraham, our father in faith,
    and the bread and wine offered by your priest, Melchizedek.

    Almighty God, we pray that your angel may take this sacrifice
    to your altar in heaven.
    Then, as we receive from this altar
    the sacred body and blood of your Son,
    let us be filled with every grace and blessing.

    1998 Translation

    Look with favour on these offerings
    and accept them as once you accepted
    the gifts of your just servant Abel,
    the sacrifice of Abraham, our father in faith,
    and the bread and wine offered by your priest Melchizedek.

    Almighty God, command that your angel carry this sacrifice
    to your altar in heaven.
    Then, as we receive from this altar
    the sacred body and blood of your Son,
    let us be filled with every grace and blessing.

    2008 Translation

    Be pleased to look upon them with serene and kindly countenance,
    and to accept them, as you were pleased to accept
    the gifts of your servant Abel the just,
    the sacrifice of Abraham, our father in faith,
    and the offering of your high priest Melchizedek,
    a holy sacrifice, a spotless victim.

    In humble prayer we ask you, almighty God:
    command that these gifts be borne by the hands of your holy Angel
    to your altar on high in the sight of your divine majesty,
    so that all of us who through this participation at the altar
    receive the most holy Body and Blood of your Son
    may be filled with every grace and heavenly blessing.

    In English prose and poetry more is not always better in getting the point across. The old rules of translation laid down in 1969 by the original Consilium of bishops and experts appointed by Pope Paul VI wisely recognised that fact; Cardinal Medina’s 2001 rules do not.

    To my mind the 2008 translation above is just too “fruity”, wordy, ostentatious and difficult to readily comprehend. An easy example of this: why does Melchizedek appear to be the holy sacrifice and spotless victim in the 2008 translation? Here we have a direct blurring of meaning, brought about by rules where fidelity to Latin syntax trumps fidelity to meaning.

    Besides producing strange or wrong images, the 2008 translation produces foreign sounding English that is not good verse. The above text is a small example, one of many, where the English literal equivalent of the Latin fails to make the liturgy better because it obscures meaning and makes the prose plodding and ostentatious.

    The 1973 and 1998 translations were composed using the rules of dynamic equivalence laid down by the Consilium in Comme le prvoit. Unfortunately the Consilium was disbanded after its work of revising the Latin rites was done. But the CDW remains and it has been allowed to abrogate the rules of the Consilium. The 2008 translation uses formal correspondence (or literal equivalence) not dynamic equivalence, which is why it has difficult semantics and an unnatural syntax.

    It is obvious that had we used the 1998 translation, approved by our bishops and all the English-speaking conferences in 1996-98, we would have had an evolutionary update of the translation, which hardly anyone could have objected to.

    The crux of the translation problem is demonstrated clearly in difference between these two paragraphs from Liturgiam Authenticam and Comme le prvoit:

    Liturgiam Authenticam (2001)

    While it is permissible to arrange the wording, the syntax and the style in
    such a way as to prepare a flowing vernacular text suitable to the rhythm of popular prayer, the original text, insofar as possible, must be translated integrally and in the most exact manner, without omissions or additions in terms of their content, and without paraphrases or glosses. Any adaptation to the characteristics or the nature of the various vernacular languages is to be sober and discreet. (LA, 20)

    Comme le prvoit (1969)

    The translator must always keep in mind that the “unit of meaning” is not the individual word but the whole passage. The translator must therefore be careful that the translation is not so analytical that it exaggerates the importance of particular phrases while it obscures or weakens the meaning of the whole. Thus, in Latin, the piling up of ratam, rationabilem, acceptabilem may increase the sense of invocation. In other tongues, a succession of adjectives may actually weaken the force of the prayer. The same is true of beatissima Virgo or beata et gloriosa or the routine addition of sanctus or beatus to a saint’s name, or the too casual use of superlatives. Understatement in English is sometimes the most effective means of emphasis. (CP 12/c.)

    For those who would like to compare the two sets of rules and make up their own minds:
    Dynamic Equivalence (1969): Comme le prvoit (8 pp)
    Formal Correspondence (2001): Liturgiam Authenticam (34 pp)

    It is crystal clear to me that the rules and guidelines of dynamic equivalence in Comme le prvoit are a better method of translation because the fruit they produce better facilitates the aim of all liturgy: full active and conscious participation.

    Vatican II – Sacrosanctum Concilium (1963)

    In the restoration and promotion of the sacred liturgy, this full and active participation by all the people is the aim to be considered before all else; for it is the primary and indispensable source from which the faithful are to derive the true Christian spirit; (SC 14)

    The periti who had attended Vatican II and who wrote Comme le prvoit understood that and provided rules accordingly. They understood what we should too, viz. that the end product is not gained though fidelity to Latin words but fidelity to the meaning of the idiom in the original the Latin phrases. The authors of Liturgiam Authenticam, in contrast say they understand the primacy of participation but write rules designed to make language smother participation, basing their prescriptions on a faulty understanding of the how the Roman rite got to be the way it is: bits and pieces, Melchizedeks and all. Is it any wonder that the musicologist and liturgical historian Peter Jeffrey has called LA “the most ignorant statement of liturgy ever produced by a modern Vatican congregation”?

    So we have a pastoral crisis because priests and laity understand the words and phrases in the liturgy and have taken them to heart. The transition from the 1973 translation to the 2008 translation is much more fraught and much riskier than it should be because we all understand the language of our worship and because we can recognise a crock when we see one. The bishops don’t seem to appreciate that. They have let English speakers down badly in the process and in the product.

    South African Catholics are quite passive usually and quite tolerant of mediocrity in our liturgy. The new translation still has to hit the 19,000 parishes of the USA, where English liturgies tend to be better and Catholics much less tolerant of mediocrity.

    We have a very rough time ahead of us.


  96. Martin, Martin

    When an intolerant and narrow-minded stance is adopted in the name of Mother Church quite naturally it will be rejected irrespective of whether it is fact, rules, written law etc. The rejection should, of course, not be personal.

    It is difficult when our whole belief system is based upon Gods love, mercy, compassion and concern for us, to see the wood of this covenanted Love in the forest of an obsessive need to be factually right.

    Mother Church is then being projected as a harsh even cruel patriarchal parent unable to love.

    Zechariah said clearly and well that God would give his people knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of sin (Lk 1:77). Nick Kings translation states it more explicitly for my purpose: And you, little child, you shall be called a prophet of the Most High; for you shall go before [YHWH], to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people, through forgiveness of their sins through the compassionate heart of our God.

    So the sum total is that all efforts along the lines of such a need or stance is effectively in vain. It is the worship of a vain idol which is being projected. No one learns anything valuable from a person they perceive does not, cannot love or even understand. It is a basic rule (commandment) which Christ re-stated.

    I can chart from the first letter you ever wrote in the Southern Cross the course of the responses to you. From this particular stream, I would say no one gains anything meaningful from your stating, no matter how clearly and concisely, what is right and what is wrong in the area of our Christian belief. The attitude has changed from willingness to debate and dialogue to give-up-all-effort as it is like throwing oneself into a bottomless pit.

    Once before, I suggested we should pray harder for you because this obsession is never ending. It is also deeply pitiful for one who loves Christ to try and juxtapose his gentleness, willingness and compassion with someones desperate need to be right.

    In the beginning, I thought of you as the Devils advocate, as giving the necessary push towards honing or fine-tuning what we really believe. But a huge chasm appeared rather quickly and it is widening all the time. It reminds me something of the chasm I recognised long ago between laity and the ivory tower of the Vatican.

    Grace is not poured out upon us because we know what is right and what is wrong but in our struggle to be fully human.

    John OLeary reminds us of Sabbath
    The Sabbath is a sign between myself and you, from generation to generation, to show that it is I, Yahweh, who sanctify you.(Exodus 31:13 JB) Could we agree that this is an absolute lived truth today especially in the light of this particular issue? Is it an absolute truth in the light of all the legalists efforts to state what is right and what is wrong?

    The Sabbath calls us to listening, waiting, hoping, depending and trusting IN GOD not the vain idol being offered by a legalist approach to it all.

    Have we not changed a foundational commandment to suit our lifestyles, our intellectualism, our love for the things of the world?
    First and foremost, last and eternally the only sign of truth is the person of Jesus.

    The concept of God as a Father treating ALL children equally, regardless, is what runs through most of the meaningful writing in this stream (and probably in others). It appears that you cannot grasp this, that is probably why there is little respect and tolerance for what is perceived as your basic intolerance.

    No person can claim that facts unequivocally overrule the monopoly of Gods Mercy and Love.


  97. Gray says:

    To me it seems abundantly clear that it is very ill advised to mix language architectures in the way the bishops are attempting. It’s like putting the dome of St Peter’s basilica on the cathedral of Christ the King in Johannesburg – it doesn’t work and doesn’t look good. In the same way the new Mass doesn’t work with Latin syntax superimposed on English syntax, and the result really doesn’t sound good.

  98. Martin Keenan says:

    Dear David (Part 1 of 3),

    This is very long, because I want to respond in detail to your example. But first there is the general point of aesthetics.

    I said I have kept away from the aesthetic argument in here because I can find no useful point of entry if comment is stuck at the level of complaining that the [not-so-] new translations are “ugly”, “tortuous”, and the rest.

    You now add “fruity”, “wordy” and “ostentatious” to the list. Those are not arguments, they are value judgements, as I have said. I relish the new translations, you don’t. I can see no purpose in trying to force a debate when there is none to be had.

    We have exchanged views on the quality of the new text and we shall, as I have said before, never agree; I do not claim they are flawless, but they are a valuable and important achievement and are vastly superior to the 1973 texts. Since I do not have access to the 1998 translation, I cannot comment on it, but I know enough about the dispute between old ICEL and the Congregation for Divine Worship to recognise that the problem was not confined to inclusive language.

  99. Martin Keenan says:

    Dear David (Part 2 of 3)

    You now present an excerpt from EP1 with 3 parallel versions. I see nothing material to separate the 1973 and 1998 texts: the changes seem minimal and rather “pointless” and occur in only 2 of the 10 lines. In line 3 Abel gets his epithet back, and in line 6 “we pray that your angel may take” becomes “command that your angel may carry”.

    The 2008 text is much fuller, and we need to ask what has it put back that was left out in 1973 and 1998. Let’s take the example you home in on: at first sight, the phrase “a holy sacrifice, a spotless victim” does look grammatically as if it is in apposition to Melchizedek, but the sense of the thing (M is certainly not any kind of a victim, let alone a holy and spotless one) eliminates that thought as soon as it arises.

    More importantly, the phrase “a holy sacrifice, a spotless victim” verbally connects with the passage preceding your quote: “we offer . . this pure victim, this holy victim, this spotless victim, the holy Bread of eternal life and the Chalice of everlasting salvation . .”.

    The focus is insistently on Christ and the OT comparisons are purely illustrative as types and shadows. We start with Christ, the spotless victim and we return to Christ the spotless victim. This is the sacrifice that is the subject of the prayer which follows.

    Now, what do we get with the 1973 and 1998 texts? The priest says: “Almighty God, we pray that your angel may take this sacrifice ” (1973), or “Almighty God, command that your angel carry this sacrifice . .” (1998). What sacrifice? The preceding reference to “sacrifice” is the sacrifice of Abraham two lines before. Does anyone think the priest is referring to that sacrifice? Of course not, although it is grammatically the obvious reference. Well, the same applies to your point. Nobody is confused into thinking the priest is offering Melchizedek at Mass. It is a non-argument.

  100. Martin Keenan says:

    Dear David (Part 3 of 3)

    Let’s go back to what was left out in 1973 and 1998. In fairness, you ought to print the 2008 text in sense lines:-

    “In humble prayer we ask you, almighty God:
    command that these gifts be borne
    by the hands of your holy Angel
    to your altar on high
    in the sight of your divine majesty, ”

    This replaces:

    “Almighty God,
    we pray that your angel may take this sacrifice
    to your altar in heaven.”

    The decision to slim down the Latin text cannot be justified by reference to “Comme Le Prvoit” (“CLP”) because that distinctly says (at para.33):-

    ” . . the anaphoras [meaning the Eucharistic Prayers] . . should be translated integrally and faithfully, without variations, omissions or insertions.”

    Pausing there, that is no more and no less than what you quoted from “Liturgiam authenticam” (n. 20, with reference to all liturgical prayers):-

    ” . . the original text, insofar as possible, must be translated integrally and in the most exact manner, without omissions or additions in terms of their content, and without paraphrases or glosses . .”

    CLP does go on to hedge the possibility of paraphrases in some cases of special difficulty, but the principle is exactly the same:

    “These texts, whether ancient or modern, have a precise and studied theological elaboration. If the text is ancient, certain Latin terms present difficulties of interpretation because of their use and meaning, which are much different from their corresponding terms in modern language. The translation will therefore demand an astute handling and sometimes a paraphrasing . .”

    Now, you tell me on what ground can the 1973 and 1998 texts in your example from EP1 be squared with what is written in CLP 33?

  101. David says:

    Dear Martin

    .. “I can see no purpose in trying to force a debate when there is none to be had.”

    Then don’t, if all you rely on are rules.

    .. “the quality of the new text … are vastly superior”

    That’s good – your own “value judgement” (your words) and a small step into the disturbingly wide world of aesthetics, creativity and history.

    .. “I know enough about the dispute … to recognise that the problem was not confined to inclusive language.”

    True, but inclusive language was the red flag to the reactionary bulls. The 1998 translation was approved by all ICEL member conferences including the SACBC but rejected by Cardinal Medina and his associates.

    .. “Nobody is confused into thinking the priest is offering Melchizedek at Mass.”

    That’s not what I implied. People could think Melchizedek (was) the holy sacrifice and spotless victim (in the Old Testament).

    .. “no more and no less than what you quoted from Liturgiam authenticam..”
    .. “on what ground can the 1973 and 1998 texts in your example from EP1 be squared with what is written in CLP 33?”

    You are wrong: there’s a world of difference: CP has “should”, LA has “must”. These two little auxiliary verbs sum up the spirit of the two instructions very nicely. With “should” and the rest of Comme le prvoit in mind I see no contradiction between it and the 1973 and 1998 translations. How else do you square the caution in CP 12/c with CP 33, “Thus, in Latin, the piling up of ratam, rationabilem, acceptabilem may increase the sense of invocation. In other tongues, a succession of adjectives may actually weaken the force of the prayer”? The ratam, rationabilem, acceptabilem sequence occurs just before the Institution Narrative in Eucharistic Prayer I. You square it by reading the CP document as a whole and applying your mind and skills as a translator and liturgist.

    I know the 1973 English translation is not perfect, but the new translation is worse. The 1973 translation is better because it works better. It works better because it serves the liturgy better, from the most ornate Masses I have experienced to the most simple: Masses in basilicas and cathedrals with full orchestra and choir, charismatic Masses with people praying in tongues, Masses with students on the beach with guitars and on mountaintops with rock altars, and Masses with young children in school who like to dialogue. How well does the new Latinized English fare by comparison? I’m prepared to be surprised, but I don’t think I will be.

    Martin, legalistic solutions aimed at slavish translations of the “master text” (your words) are not really helpful to improving the liturgy in our parishes. If anything, the new translation makes poor liturgy worse because it simply does not work well as a spoken text to be proclaimed and heard. It would be fine sung as a high Mass, where the poor English would be blurred by the musical form and setting. But it seems we cannot discuss anything about music, history, liturgy, linguistics, poetry… anything… apart from regulations.

    Which brings us back to John O’Leary’s reminding us that “The sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the sabbath” (Mk 2:27 – NRSV).

    What is the purpose of the liturgy? What is the purpose of Vatican II’s call to reform the liturgy?
    Perhaps you think god’s frozen liturgy for god’s frozen people is the better way.


  102. Martin Keenan says:

    Dear David,

    Whoah, boy! Steady there!! You seriously think there is a difference between “must” and the iussive or obligatory use of “shall” in CLP 33? You think “should” is facultative or permissive here? Just read the whole of CLP 33 and you will get the answer. Then try CLP 31 (a clear prohibition) “In no way should there be a paraphrasing of the Biblical text . .”. And CLP 32 (clearly directory) “Translations [of Scripture] approved for liturgical use should closely approximate the best versions in a particular language”.

    Having got that off my chest, my final thoughts as between you and me are these:

    First, I concentrated (but not exclusively) on technical aspects – and no, they are not all about rules – because the quality of debate on aesthetics has been abysmal in “The Southern Cross” in print and online in this and other threads. I have explained all that quite carefully. It’s not up to you or anyone to try to steer me in any particular direction of your choice.

    Higher up in this thread, I did address broader issues which have simply been ignored. I challenged Fr. Pollitt to address them, but he vanished like the Cheshire Cat. So be it. But don’t deceive yourself that I am only interested in “rules” and that my concerns are purely “legalistic”. The rules exist and cannot be laughed off or air-brushed out. By and large contributors to the discussion know nothing about the rules, and couldn’t care less when informed of them. My interventions have been a solitary voice reminding readers that this is not (and has never been) a liturgical free-for-all.

    It’s not for me to say my technical and other arguments are unanswerable, but, by and large, they have not been answered. You and others telling me I should present my arguments this way or that way, or that I should address other more nebulous arguments, isn’t exactly dealing with the specific issues I have addressed.

    Your last few posts are a partial exception to the general run of posts, but I am sorry to see that you still cannot liberate yourself from gratuitous imputations as to my mental processes. Things might have turned out more constructively if people had stuck to the actual arguments.

    Like it or not, there are technical issues of extreme importance on which most people are incompetent to judge. The revision of the Latin master text was achieved by experts – that’s how the Council Fathers wanted it. And yes, it is a master text. I cannot see any point in your pretending that I have somehow unfairly elevated the status of the Latin text.

    The technical issues which arise are not confined to ones of straightforward translation, because liturgical texts cannot be approached as if they were a secular Latin text. That’s basic. Doctrinal soundness is a key issue. Issues of truth are involved and they are paramount. Scriptural allusions must be respected. That’s how it is.

    As for the passage from CLP 33, it clearly overrides anything else in the document, and if you want an integral approach to CLP, go ahead. The general principle in 12c is subject to the particular application of the more restrictive principle in 33. Check out the cross-headings of Parts I and II.

    Where 12c goes wrong is in its choice of example from (as you correctly point out) EP1. In fact, 12c sells the example very short. The text of EP1 at that point reads “quam oblationem tu Deus in omnibus quaesumus benedictam, adscriptam, ratam, rationabilem, acceptabilemque facere digneris”. Five epithets containing 20 syllables.

    I ask myself: which of the 3 epithets seemingly targeted by CLP (“ratam, rationabilem, acceptabilem”) are to be discarded as “weaken[ing] the force of the prayer”? Obviously not “rationabilem” which is a key term from Ro.12:1 the proximate source of the prayer: “obsecro vos fratres per misericordiam Dei ut exhibeatis corpora vestra hostiam viventem sanctam, Deo placentem rationabile obsequium vestrum”.

    Well, in the event, ICEL 1973 dropped only one of the five (“adscriptam”).

    Thus, in 1973 we were given (in 25 syllables) “bless and approve our offering [benedictam . . ratam] make it acceptable to you [acceptabilem] an offering in spirit and truth [rationabilem]”.

    No call to repeat “offering”. No justification for evoking the words of Our Lord to the Samaritan woman (Jn.4:23) in place of the clearly dominant passage in chapter 12 of Romans. No reason for dropping “adscriptam”. No reason for dropping “in omnibus”. CLP 12c is a poor fig-leaf indeed at this point.

    By contrast, ICEL 2008 gives us the full, integral text (in 27 syllables): “bless, acknowledge and approve [benedictam adscriptam ratam] this offering in every respect; make it spiritual and acceptable [rationabilem acceptabilemque].

    I’m looking, David, I really am. I’m just not seeing that that extract from the 2008 text (or any other example you have introduced) is “ugly”, or “tortuous”, or “incomprehensible”, or “gibberish” or “pompous” or “lacking in rhythm” or “unproclaimable” or deserves to be tarred by any of the other abusive epithets which have passed currency in here for argument. It’s full. It’s complete. It respects CLP 33 and LA n. 20. It respects the Scriptural allusion. Look at it with the eyes of faith. Be docile to it. Good luck and God Bless.

  103. David says:

    Dear Martin

    .. Whoah, boy! Steady there!! You seriously think there is a difference between must and … should

    Yes I do. Perhaps I should have been clearer.

    .. Its not up to you or anyone to try to steer me in any particular direction of your choice.

    The same could apply to you and your comments.

    .. I challenged Fr. Pollitt to address them…

    Perhaps, Martin you should ask yourself why people are upset. Quoting rules is not very helpful. The reasoning behind the rules is what is convincing or not. Many laity have long outgrown the “just pray, pay and obey” phase of their faith. And many priests are tired of being having to defend the indefensible for a Church that has lost credibility. No one wants a liturgical free-for-all, but that is and will be the result of the new translation mess. Many of us feel that the new rules of translation are part of a systematic attempt to “reform the reform”, to undo the ecclesiology of the Second Vatican Council, or at the very least control and emasculate it. The bishops don’t have to live with the consequences of their decisions in the same way their priests do.

    .. it is a master text.

    That is the problem. We do not speak or understand Latin. The Latin has to be translated properly, but not using formal correspondence. Also, please remember that the “master text” changes, and the changes were organic and probably more worthwhile when people actually understood the language. Many, many of the changes that we now think of as integral to the Roman rite got there through custom, not legislation.

    .. Scriptural allusions must be respected.
    .. By contrast, ICEL 2008 gives us the full, integral text..

    Yes, but translated badly, and here we go again. No one is saying that the Latin should be treated as a secular text. But the English language should be treated with dignity.

    .. Be docile to it. Good luck and God Bless.

    Faith has to have intellect to inform it otherwise it is meaningless. Docilility is not a helpful attitude for significant participation in the Church if it means acquiescence and submission in the face of ineptitude and stupidity. The range of experts in the new ICEL is nowhere near as broad and deep as the old ICEL that Denis Hurley and the Vatican II bishops founded. I wonder why. The answer: they are not needed. There’s no place for much else besides a Latin grammar, a Latin/English dictionary and a good dose of reactionary zeal for an imagined yesteryear.

    Praxis in time will tell whether the new translation is helpful in attracting people into and back to the Church, and whether it really helps people in their worship. My fear is 1) it will not and 2) the Mass will be less meaningful to us. In the interim we will have to live with all the disruption and the rotten fruit. IS it any wonder that at their annual general meeting this year the entire assembly of 90 priests of the Cape Town archdiocese voted to request the withdrawl of the new translation because of its flaws and the disruption it had caused. Why did they do that if ICEL 2008 is so clearly superior to ICEL 1973?

    I think your “Good luck and God Bless” should rather be directed to the English-speaking Church.


  104. Martin Keenan says:

    I notice you have nothing to say on the specific translations issues I raised, but revert to the standard complaints. The prospect of a serious debate even as between you and me on identifiable issues was, I am sad to say, an illusion.

    I intervene for the last time in this thread only to correct an error of fact.

    So far as my information extends, the priests of my archdiocese at their AGM in January this year, while making their disgruntlement known in a general way (as to which some were vociferous, and many were not), certainly did not vote to request the withdrawal of the new translation on the grounds you assert or on any grounds. There was no formal “vote”; the mood of the assembly was not sufficiently clearly expressed for anyone to assert the precise grounds on which the various levels of disgruntlement was based; and the disgruntlement itself was certainly not unanimous.

    The more interesting question is how the priests feel now that they have become accustomed to the new texts. My understanding is that generally (and there are always hedgers and ditchers) they are reconciled to it – in a positive way and not by way of resigning themselves to the fact that it is here to stay.

    Good luck, David, and God Bless

  105. David says:

    Dear Matin

    .. “revert to the standard complaints”

    I have no difficulty with the Latin text. But Latin has its own rhythm, and the allusions and imagery that augment the Latin text fit the Latin rhythm. I have absolutely no problem recovering biblical references or retrofitting them into the English text, but where you and I differ is in the way it is done. I think English has to be freed from the constraints of the Latin language.

    Martin, you seem to dismiss the “standard complaints” out of hand and wish to debate only your issues which are largely to do with adherence to regulations or the interpretations of regulations. Any debate with you in my view would be superficial because it would not address the merits of the new translation philosophy, the conservative reaction against the reform of the liturgy and the context of the times within which the translation has been promoted, its method of promotion, how the translation furthers or hinders the programme of liturgical renewal, and how genuinely good it is as a ritual and a work of art.

    .. “the mood of the assembly was not sufficiently clearly expressed”

    Yes, you are correct that there wasn’t a formal vote – I used vote in the sense of declare by general consent (Oxford). The general consent was one of great unhappiness with the new translation. Several priests did give very precise grounds about why they were unhappy with the translation and the way it had been introduced. One senior priest in particular got a huge round of applause for his statement.

    I too would be interested to know how widespread the unhappiness is now. But, I suppose human beings can get used to anything.

    No doubt the the translation methodology pendulum to swing back in time from what I think is a complete over-reaction by the CDW and conservative prelates; I can wait another 40 years.


  106. Vincent Couling says:

    The line “The prospect of a serious debate even as between you [David] and me [Martin] on identifiable issues was, I am sad to say, an illusion.” leaves me flabbergasted! David, your two posts prior to this inane allegation were profound in their depth of insight and clarity. Please do not be discouraged. That Martin admits he cannot enter into a serious debate with you reveals so very much about himself, and none other.

  107. David says:

    Dear Vincent

    Thanks for your kind encouragement. I’m happy to report that my faith in Jesus and a good sense of the history and rich spiritual heritage of the Catholic Church as well as my personal experience of its breadth as a truly world church (to borrow from Rahner) keeps me from disillusionment.

    A not-so-original metaphor may be apt: authority should be like a hand, upturned, palm open to support the life-giving water it holds. But when the hand tries to grip the water, it runs out between the fingers. The tighter the grip, the more water slips out and is lost.

    I am saddened by the gripping, ugly side of the institutional Church that manifests itself as power, privilege, pessimism, exclusion, narrowness, mediocrity, intolerant and abusive behaviour, humourless attempts at control, with no compassion, lots of condescension, no consultation or attempt to engage, or willingness to learn, and no respect for other equally valid theological views or for the people who hold them.

    But for every grain of creepiness in the Church I know there’s a whole beach full of Catholics who are living with Christian honour.

    Oh, and keeping good sense of humour doesn’t do any harm either.

    Thanks again

  108. Vincent Couling says:


  109. Gray says:

    Oct 22, 2009
    “Bishop criticizes slavishly literal English translation of missal”

    At least there’s one bishop that seems to “get” the problems with this wierd translation.

    Donald Trautman, bishop of Erie, and a trained liturgist has also written a fuller thoughtful reflection on the problems of the new translation, called “The Relationship of the Active Participation of the Assemblyto Liturgical Translations” and posted on the website of the Diocese of Erie.

  110. Gray says:

    I’m pleased to see that eminent liturgists like Fr Robert Taft, SJ are reminding us of the larger picture in the debate over the new tawdry English translation. Way to go Father Taft !!

    Nov 4th 2009

    Fr Robert Taft, SJ
    Opponents of the modern liturgy could use a history lesson, says this scholar of the church’s prayer. Overall, the liturgical reform [of Vatican II] has been a great success.

  111. Gray says:

    The American Church continues to wake up to the reality of the new translation:

    Monsignor Michael Ryan, the parish priest of St James Cathedral in Seattle, has called for a grass-roots review of the translation and a show of some “plain good sense”.

  112. David says:

    No doubt more thinking and caring pastors like Mgr Ryan will speak up about the stupidity of this way of translating. But I fear that the Vatican liturgy authorities are too deaf, too proud and too stubborn to listen to Catholics, whether laity or clergy. Perhaps our bishops are too, or maybe they’re just asleep at the wheel.

    Is episcopal deafness any wonder though, when Bishop Arthur Roche of Leeds and the ICEL bishops visited South Africa two years ago to find out how the approval process was going here, they met only a handful of bishops and senior clergy, preferring to keep to themselves while staying in the most expensive 5-star hotels, including The President Hotel in Cape Town. Why meet real pastors, liturgists and real people who may ask difficult questions, when you can isolate yourself with like-minded people who will smother you in self-congratulatory banality?

    I applaud pastors like Michael Ryan and Larry Kaufmann, and bishops like Kevin Dowling for having the courage to speak up and tell their brother clerics what we English-speakers in South Africa already know, that the new English translation just isn’t good enough.

  113. Gray says:

    To everyone who is dissatisfied with the new translation –

    Monsignor Ryan, pastor of St James Cathedral in Seattle, has an online petition asking for a rethink.

    Quite a few South African Catholics have signed the petition, but there are many more from the US and all over the world, including Archbishop Pakiam, the archbishop of Kuala Lumpur. Why not sign too?


    We are very concerned about the proposed new translations of the Roman Missal. We believe that simply imposing them on our people — even after a program of preparation — will have an adverse effect on their prayer and cause serious division in our communities.

    We are convinced that adopting translations that are highly controversial, and which leaders among our bishops as well as many highly respected liturgists and linguists consider to be seriously flawed, will be a grave mistake.

    For this reason we earnestly implore the bishops of the English-speaking world to undertake a pilot program by which the new translations — after a careful program of catechesis — can be introduced into some carefully selected parishes and communities throughout the English-speaking world for a period of one (liturgical) year, after which they can be objectively evaluated.

    We are convinced that this approach will address the concerns of those many bishops who feel that they have lost their voice in this matter and that it will also give a voice to the People of God whose prayer is at stake and who accordingly have the most to gain or lose by the translations.

    We realize that a pilot project of this kind is unprecedented, but so is the process by which these translations have been approved.

  114. Gray says:

    Fr Joseph O’Leary has some interesting comments on the quirks of the new translation in his Essays on literary and theological themes blog.

    Fr O’Leary teaches English literature at the Jesuit Sophia University in Tokyo.

  115. Relative to David’s comment above about Bishop Roche of Leeds and his liturgy delegation’s visit to SA.

    I read somewhere that the original meaning of the concept and word ‘liturgy’ meant: work of the people.

    If this is correct clearly Bishop Roche et al are not taking this seriously.

    Thanks also to Gray for the links.

    There are many points I would like to comment on but is the effort worth the end result? I have been ‘hopping’ from parish to parish over the last couple of months and it seems that people are simply accepting the initial change. I wonder though at how mindful their personal individual presence in prayer is affected.

    Personally, I feel the whole exercise is an endeavour to make me focus on the person of Christ and try to seesaw between what is heartfelt prayer and what is ‘hocus pocus’.

  116. David says:

    Dear Rosemary

    Don’t give up! You’re not alone, and I’m not only talking about God. In just three weeks, over 8000 Catholics</have signalled their disquiet over the new translation and what it signifies for them and the Church. (And the new translations are two years away from planned use in the rest of the world).

    Have a look at the hundreds and hundreds of thoughtful comments from ordinary folk and from some very influential and respected church men and women who have posted their thoughts on the “What If We Just Said Wait?” website.

    How ironic that in the 21 century “hocus pocus” language should again pose a danger to people’s understanding of the liturgy.

    But may Christmastide be a time of spiritual blessing for you and for everyone here.


  117. Prof. Peter Farley says:

    Observations from the U.S.A. In the early Church Greek was the language of theology; Latin was considered unequal to the demands of theological speculation (probably because it had not developed an adequate vocabulary). At the Reformation Luther, Knox, Zwingli, Calvin, More, Borromeo — all read, wrote, spoke and argued in Latin. Much good it did them. It certainly didn’t help theological clarity, precision or unity. In the matter of unity, if you play the Tower of Babel I will trump with Pentecost. I read, write, have taught and speak the tongue that Shakespeare spake and take second place to no other language on earth.
    A personal anecdote: I was much opposed to the changes in liturgy and language at first. Then when I first went to communion under the new practice, I raised my hands, the priest looked at me, raised the host and said, “The Body of Christ.” For one hundredth of a split second I thought, “I can’t.” But I said amen and received. As devoutly as I had tried to receive in the past, I had never had a moment like that before. The experience persists.
    Pardon the intrusion from north of The Line. I’ve enjoyed your electronic quodlibet (Latin for disputation or donneybrook).

  118. Jan Paget says:

    I cannot see the point of arguing the translation of Mass,our language changes all the time,it is mostly evident in the computer language.Being a relative newcomer to computers Iam astounded at the vocabulary and the meaning of words i.e. blue tooth,coputer crashed(still being in one piece) paste,fire wall,etc
    What will the language be in 5or10 yrs time?How are we going to tranlate into the new language?

  119. Jan Paget says:

    I am not sure how I can be moderate?

  120. Prof. Peter Farley says:

    Ye knowe ek that in forme of speche is chaunge ek, also
    Withinne a thousand yeer, and wordes tho tho, then
    That hadden pris, now wonder nyce and straunge pris, value; nyce,foolish
    Us thinketh hem, and yet they spake hem so,
    And spedde as wel in love as men now do: spedde, succeded
    Ek for to wynnen love in sondry ages, sondry, various
    In sondry londes sondry ben usages.

    Geoffrey Chaucer, “Troilus and Criseyde” (ca. 1385)

    How many ages hence
    Shall this our lofty scene be acted over
    In states unborn and accents yet unknown!

    William Shakespeare, “Julius Caesar” (1599)

  121. Fr Hugh Purcell says:

    The Latin Vulgate is merely a translation too!

  122. Ariane Gravenor says:

    As a very latecomer to this debate, here is my penny’s worth:
    So much for bringing the people closer to the liturgy, by translating it from the Latin into many languages: it seems to me that it is bringing a lot of disquiet and distractions away from the real purpose of liturgy, that is the dignified worship of our God, Creator, Saviour.
    All this talk and energy is simply leading us, the children of God, away from Him and transforming what should be a united, universal (catholic) Church, into a variety of disparate groups whose focus has shifted from worship and thanksgiving to undignified arguing for their own view. Is this the spirit of the Second Ecumenical Vatican Council? Could well be.

  123. Claire says:

    To comments like this: “Have we been consulted? NO!” – the Catholic Church is not a democracy. Accept the Church for what it is or why are you Catholic? I do not understand people who constantly complain about the Church and then still call themselves faithful Catholics. It will not change to fall in with your particular views and thank goodness for that. The National Catholic Reporter was mentioned a few times. That site is as far from Catholic as any protestant church. Thank you to people like Martin Keenen who defend the teachings of the Church. Priests and Bishops who write articles like these only cause confusion and dissent among the laity. To the Southern Cross: There are plenty of orthodox Catholic websites and blogs out there to model yourself after. CatholicVote, Fr Z and the National Catholic REGISTER are a few examples. The South African laity desperately NEEDS no-nonsense, orthodox Catholic reporting.

  124. P.R.Margeot says:

    David on the 29th December wrote the words ” hocus pocus”. What do they mean exactly?
    I was told, but I may be wrong I admit, that they are a corruption of :
    Any linguists on this forum?

  125. Joseph says:

    I think there might be one or two points that discussions on “The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass” tend to gloss over in our era. I will try to articulate briefly and as best I can and always stand to be corrected by those more knowledgeable. If we take a look at Hebrews 9 and the practice of worship, one tends to find out that really public worship of the people of God is defined and has always been defined by God not public opinion. This dates back to Moses (a descendant of Levi both on his father and mother’s side); for example the Lord God says to Moses I will be with your mouth and teach you what you must say (Ex 4:12), I will also be with Aaron’s mouth (Ex 4:15). What comes through Aaron and Moses then becomes a direct inspiration from God. Now Moses and Aaron told Pharaoh that the Israelites were to go a journey of three days and worship in the desert and they’d be told what to do there in the desert.
    In Exodus 12:1-28 God institutes the First Passover , Decalogue (Ex 20:1-21), Altar (Ex 20:22-26) and Ex 23:3-8 where the Altar is defined in no uncertain terms as a place to offer sacrifices to the Lord.

    Now in Hebrews 9 we are reminded of the worship of atonement that could only be offered once and only by the High Priest (not the community) in the OT and how he did it. This role is then taken by Christ Jesus who enters once into the Holy of Holies (Heaven) and offers sacrifices while He remains there. As a Priest for ever in the order of Melchizedek (Heb 6:20), He offers Bread and Wine. We are told in John 6:51 that the Bread it is to be His flesh for the salvation of the world. Thus I feel if we innovate and deviate from the gift of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass then we abandon the dignity of humility and obedience that characterizes the people of God inaugurated through the waters of the Nile and those of the Jordan as they entered the Promised Land. It is Christ Jesus through the hands and person of the priest that offers to the faithful the greatest miracle of transsubstantiation on our Altars (not table) in the House of the Lord.

    Humility and a sense of extended socialism and democracy in public worship are not one and the same thing. The priest by virtue of the laying of hands acts “in persona Christi” or “in loco Christus”, this Ministerial priesthood that is not to be confused with the Baptismal priesthood was established on Holy Thursday (Maundy Thursday) in the upper room where even the Most Blessed Virgin Mary was excluded from attending and confirmed in John 20:22 with even more shocking power “…whoever’s sins you forgive are forgiven them and whose sins you withhold are withheld …” a mission that not even the highest angels were ever entrusted with. It is to the priesthood and to the priesthood alone that this mission was given (kind of like Frodo was told by Lady Galandria in the Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship – written by JRR Tolkien, a staunch traditional Catholic).

    This is why in the General instruction of the Roman Missal #162 specifically says that extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion can only approach the Altar after the priest has received Holy Communion. Changes have destroyed the reverence due to God in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and have turned the public worship into a social gathering where the ‘community’ can fold their hands in front of the Tabernacle of the Lord’s presence; sell things in the Church next to the sanctuary and call it ‘the gifts of God’ whilst ignoring and disrespecting the greatest gift ever given to humanity – Christ Jesus Himself in the flesh and Divinity; some come almost naked wearing what people used to wear as underwear much against the teaching of Our Lady of Fatima on modesty in dress.

    In conclusion, I believe the changes brought with them a general air of mordenisation in which people think Hell is a scare word to get people to ‘be nice and “come to Church”; that the work of the apostolate is no longer to be light, salt and leven in the social order where they are to burn the light of a good conscience on a world that forgets it’s Loving and Eternal Father and win souls for Christ but rather to crowd in the sanctuary almost nakedness (forbidden in Ex 20:26). In this new order, that which was sin is no longer being taught as sin and priests and the laity are now seen as equals in the Mass. I remember with the admiration, the days of Padre Pio as he guided Emanuele Brunatto not through empty flattery glosses over human weaknesses but through slapping him to call him up from his spiritual slumber. The ministerial priesthood is not and will never be equated to the common priesthood of the baptised laity (read Hosea 4 to see how God sees the difference).

    All the pitfalls now common in the mystical Body of Christ are becoming exaggerated as the Church is forced through compromise to become a giant secularised center for social justice, gender sensitive preaching that alters our beloved “In the Name of the Father and The Son and The Holy Spirit” – to – “In the Name of the Creator and the Redeemer and the Sanctifier”; that avoids calling Christ Jesus “The Son of God” and calls Him “the child of God” so we become fair and gender sensitive. The norvous ordo still imparts Christ Jesus in the Eucharist but the level of reverence has been wiped off; in some Parishes, people going to attend Mass have become indistinguishable from people going to a night at the night club.

    Alteration of the language alters the meaning also of whatever is being said. Innovating in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass by one priest ignores the ‘oneness’ we profess every Sunday in the Credo and introduces discord in the world-wide daily offering. There are many hours in a day and many days in a week to innovate on other stuff. We are custodians of this faith that transcends time and space and we are not free to introduce our discord and mess it up for posterity. I hope to God that our beloved oneness be restored, that we become not a non-people through recognizing Him again and accept in humility and obedience to be led by the Holy See to the Promised Land as God’s little ones (just as little children as Christ Jesus calls us to be in Matt 18:3).

    Sorry I went on and on, I’m one of those hurting because of the translations, abuse and distortion of our liturgy. If you doubt where we are going please visit ( and view the video of a “mass” to celebrate the closing Liturgy of the 2008 West Coast Call To Action Conference, held in San Jose, California. We arrive here by adding in small increments, abuses and small innovations such as joking in the liturgy, clapping for human achievements etc etc. The Mass is the sacrifice of Calvary re-presented, who among us would’ve started joking at the crucifixion of Christ Jesus as He wriggled in pain on the wood of the cross so as to “break the ice” and lighten the mood? If one could do it then, why now when we enter into the same sacrifice?

  126. Joseph says:

    sorry correction to the last sentence: I meant to say “The Mass is the sacrifice of Calvary re-presented, who among us wouldve started joking at the crucifixion of Christ Jesus as He wriggled in pain on the wood of the cross so as to break the ice and lighten the mood? If no one could do it then, why are people doing it now when it is the same sacrifice we enter into?

  127. P.R.Margeot says:

    Admirable words, Joseph. THIS argument of yours should be put forward at every opportunity, to all Catholics, to priests who allow such clownery, disrespect, like no genuflection, talking loud, laughing, clapping of hands, women immodestly dressed, etc etc, in the sanctuary of a Catholic church. That argument would make every one think and reconsider what the Holy Mass is and realize that since the council, something went wrong. Let’s be honest and humble to admit it. I have yet to hear a priest say these words. I’ll say it again: with the Tridentine mass, the mass of all time, we have a good chance to regain the sacredness, the simpleness, the magnificence, the liturgical purity which is owed to the Mass. Courage, Catholics, better times are coming, we have a good pope, we must obey him, he is doing what he can under the circumstances, the Holy Church will be revitalized. If only the Bishops were humble enough to say publicly : we were wrong on many points, that would make them so much stronger and admirable. Their names would be remembered in the Church’s History. Salus animarum, suprema lex. Instaurare omnia in Christo.

  128. Jane O'Connor says:

    Gosh what an interesting – albeit vitriolic – debate. But the fact is, David and Larry are simply right about the language. It is tortuous – the grammar in the Creed is something else – and inelegant. It’s neither uplifting nor conducive to reflection. It’s hard to memorise because it does not flow. That is tmy view as an open minded but pretty ordinary, fairly highly educated, ‘regular’ Catholic. I’ve never even considered that there was any point in putting my views forward.