Bishops approve new translation

Bishops approve new translation

The US bishops’ conference approved the new translations of the Mass proposed by the International Committee on English in the Liturgy (ICEL), something that bishops in the rest of the English-speaking world had already done, but the US bishops also included a number of adaptations and amendments that will need to be scrutinized by the Vatican. Nevertheless the bulk of the changes required by the Liturgiam Authenticam and other Vatican directives have been approved.

The vote was 173-29 for the translation itself, and 184-8 for the adaptations for use in the United States. A 2/3 majority of 168 votes had been needed. Contrary to some predictions, the vote was not “thisclose”. Nor did the debate take more than the allotted one hour, which the same person also predicted. In fact, it took about 45 minutes.

From the coverage in the New York Times, you’d think the bishops had just voted to translate the Mass into Elizabethan English.

Some of the changes they did adopt are minor, but in other cases Catholics will have to learn longer and more awkward versions of familiar prayers. For example, instead of saying, “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you,” in the prayer before Communion, they will say, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof.”

How is that awkward? Then it says traditionalists “longed for” an English version more true to the Tridentine Mass’s Latin. Actually traditionalist long for the Tridentine Mass’s Latin itself. What advocates of the new translation want is a translation that is faithful to the actual normative texts. To be honest, I think the “upset Catholics who have committed the current prayer book to heart and to memory and who take comfort in its more conversational cadences” is a figment of someone’s imagination because, while I’m sure a few must exist somewhere, I doubt there are very many people who will pine for the pre-2006, post-Vatican II Mass.

You also once again have the standard New York Times tactic of quoting on conservative and a whole raft of liberals on an issue. Leon Suprenant of Catholics United for the Faith is the token conservative, while the lineup for the other team includes Father Lawrence Madden of the Georgetown Center for Liturgy, Father Thomas Reese formerly of America, and Father Robert Silva of the National Federation of Priests Councils. Also note that clericalism works in the other direction, too.

I’m just so amused at all the “progressives” who have suddenly become conservatives, standing athwart the liturgy and yelling “Stop.” Where were all their concerns about stripping people of a Mass to which they had become accustomed 30-40 years ago when they stripped the people of the Tridentine Mass and gave them the Novus Ordo? Ah, but now it’s different, isn’t it? It always is when the shoe’s on the other foot.

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  • To anyone who used a Latin/English missal for Mass prior to the Council, these changes are going to sound very familiar.

  • Brian:

    Your comment could be taken to mean you misunderstand the fundamental question involved here, in how the Church governs herself: namely, that the bishops are not functionaries of the Holy See, but rather, they form a “college,” in union with that bishop who succeeds Peter, and therefore is the head. Thus, each bishop has legitimate jurisdiction and authority to govern, again, in union with Peter’s successor.

    Thus, what should happen is that the English-speaking bishops collaborate on an English translation of the Missal, and then report their work to Rome, for Rome’s response, comments, and eventually, agreement. Not: Rome tells them what to do.

    Unfortunately, that hasn’t worked out all that well, and Rome has been giving more and more nudges. But the process that was attempted was, in my view, and in view of the fundamental structure of the Church, the correct one.

    Part of what is at stake here is maintaining a healthy ecclesiology in practice; it doesn’t work very well to have one ecclesiology in doctrine, but another in practice. Something’s gotta give. And bishops simply getting marching orders from Rome is not good ecclesiology.

    Thus, it’s also not good for the unity of the Church. This is something of great concern to Eastern Christians not now in union with Rome. It doesn’t help our cause (as Romans), when the East has the better of the argument, and can cite our own beliefs against us, namely the past two ecumenical councils.

    So this pope, and the last, and I guess the prior two, but that’s more than I know, have been attempting to allow a more collegial approach. But the problem arises, as in this case, when great issues are at stake. It helps shed light how we got where we are, and how hard it may be to loosen the reins and have things work.

  • Father –  Query –  How is it beneficial or an example of universality to have separate fiefdoms arbitrarily controlled by individual bishops?

  • Is there a list, anywhere online, of the “adaptations” that the USCCB is proposing? I’ve seen it said that there are *62*! changes, which could mean that the whole thing has been obliterated, and that we’re just going to be back here again in 2 years.

    Are they substantial changes, or relatively minor?


  • Orthodox – when you ask loaded questions, what do you expect me to do? Have you stopped beating your wife?

    Seriously: do you contest my account of the Church’s teaching on collegiality of the bishops, in union with Peter?

  • The USCCB has no juridical authority but what the Vatican gives it explicitly.  Period.  The bishops, when they are in union with Rome, EACH share brotherhood with the pope but he is always free and sovereign to reign.  Note that the USCCB as a body does not.  Look it up. 

    I wonder, after Trent, did the Tridentine mass get parcelled out for each diocese to tinker it into their own image?

  • No disrespect meant.  But I’m exasperated and I know there are many more like me.

    The sheer baloney that the laity has put up with for years has been “off-putting” in the extreme, to use your phrase.  And we’re tired of being taken for chumps and treated like idiots.  Some of us know far more than bishops seem to realize.  We’re tired of being insulted to our faces and expected to pay for the honor. 

    We’ve been exposed to all manner of nonsense and it is expected that we just take it.  Well, I will tell you: 

    <u>Holy is as holy does.  </u>

    Time to walk the walk.  Ante up.

  • Michigan:

    OK, I’ll speak to you as you do to me.

    “Look it up.”

    I don’t need to look it up. That wasn’t my point. Nice dodge responding, not to what I said, but to the straw man you prefer.

    I wonder, after Trent, did the Tridentine mass get parcelled out for each diocese to tinker it into their own image?

    Nice avoiding the issue. The issue is the vernacular.

    “Time to walk the walk.  Ante up.”

    I do walk the walk. I don’t need any in-your-face accusations from you. Walk your own walk.

  • Oh, and Mark:

    Since you like “frankness,” you can take your condescending tone and put it somewhere . . . out of sight.

    How’s that for frankness? Not for the faint of heart. . .

    Personally, I prefer being civil.

  • I don’t need to look it up either.  It’s in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, several times, in plain language—stated there with footnotes from tradition to back it up.

    The issue, if you look back at previous posts, is precisely whether a particular bishop has the authority to determine the manner in which the liturgy can be celebrated in his diocese.  The answer is that he has that authority only if and exactly in the manner Rome gives it to him.  Period.  The Church, meaning the Holy Catholic Church in Rome, reserves to herself the right to determine her own worship.  The ultimate arbiter of that right is the Pope, who reigns always in freedom and with authority. (CCC)  This is stated in the Council of Trent, the Council of Vatican II and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. 

    The conference of bishops in any particular region is only an advisory council.  It has never, through the whole history of the Church, been the case that it has been more.  This conference *by definition* has no juridical rights over individual bishops or over laypeople.  It is advisory only.  The supposed power of the USCCB is an American fiction straight out of the funny papers.  It’s a re-enactment of old arguments fought in the German states, in France.  Come on, history is not so bad to read.

    Personally, I think the Vatican has for the last 40 years dealt with our bishops a group because it beats the spectre of having to deal with them one by one.  A pope can only take so much and still keep his food down.  They know the American Catholic establishment is full of lunatics and probably did not want to cut the worst of them loose by themselves on the innocent populace.  Who knows what could happen?  My guess. 

    The bishops will be believed when they are believable.  That will happen when they stop acting like politically motivated bureaucrats and start living up to the dignity of their offices.

  • The conference of bishops in any particular region is only an advisory council.  It has never, through the whole history of the Church, been the case that it has been more.  This conference *by definition* has no juridical rights over individual bishops or over laypeople.  It is advisory only.

    Technically this is not true. The episcopal conference does have the power to enact particular law for the United States, althought it is true that such law must be approved by the Vatican. Still, the bishops in conference (which is not the same thing as the USCCB bureaucracy) are more than just advisory in some areas. Some power and responsibility has been delegated to them by Rome.

    But a bishop is still sovereign in his diocese.

  • Michigan:

    I don’t disagree with much of what you are saying.

    I was trying to make a different point—about the issues of ecclesiology and collegiality here. The idea—which I think lurks behind some comments here—that bishops should simply get their orders from Rome—is not good ecclesiology.

    I happen to think that matters. I realize it’s a lot more fun just whaling away on the bishops, who certainly make good targets. But, gee, I thought the idea was to get the Catholic Faith right—and that includes collegiality . . .

    Huh—I guess liberals aren’t the only “cafeterial Catholics” . . .

  • ![CDATA[

    The USCCB was the brainchild of Cdl Bernardin of Chicago.  It is not the first attempt to organize regional bishops—far from it.  It has served its purpose of being a regional advisory committee.  However, it has also fallen into the historically more compelling (apparently by the frequency in history) habit of confronting Rome and attempting to take over its own territory for its own ends—political clout, power, ease, money, honors, yada yada.  Same, same.  Some things never change.

    Have you ever really seriously read the history of ecclesial appointments—ie.  the appointments of bishops, the scandals that have ensued, the rulings by the Vatican, the documents in councils to deal with regional lay investiture, family ecclesial empires, and so on?  Come on, really.


  • Michigan:

    Doesn’t sound like you’re even engaging the point I tried to make, but scoring your own. Which is fine; but then, why carry on a non-conversation conversation?

  • There are actually contraindications to the sovereignty of bishops in history.  At the time of the council of Trent, bishops—absentee but nevertheless ordained and appointed—were forced to obey the directives of the Holy See with respect to their behavior and holdings in their own dioceses. 

    This is just one example of a very old argument within the history of the Church.  Nothing new here.  They really are not “local kings.”  They like you to think they are.  They are beholding to Rome ultimately.

    Let’s not forget that the brotherhood inherent in collegial relationship is reciprocal but in this case not symmetrical.  The pope may act alone but a bishop may act only in union with the pope.  A bishop acting in consistent and contrary opposition to the wishes of the pope is in schism.  However, if some little bishop in some little town really despises the pope (it could happen) and and defies him consistently it does not put the pope in schism.  The mere idea is ridiculous, in fact.

  • Modern canon law, yes.  But not as juridical entities of their own power.  They depend on the authority of Rome for all their properties.  They are advisory entities.  And recent in the current incarnation.  They are designed to enable bishops to share resources and communications in a region.

    The church has dealt with national and regional groups many times before and those groups have very limited and classified autonomy.  It is necessary for the obvious historical reasons.

  • “I have to confess that our parish does well with the language we now use.”

    Then your parish is an exception. Do you have vocations to the priesthood and religious life? How many hours a week are spent in the confessional? How long are the lines? Do married couples contracept in “good conscience?” What percentage of parishoners are at mass every week? How many large families are there in your parish and do the people consider it a parish responsibility to make an authentic Catholic education affordable for them? What is the ratio of adult men to adult women in the pews on Sunday? Do you have many converts other than family members at every Easter vigil?

    What we have is a liturgy that is dumbed down so that a 7th grader catechised with MTV could walk in off the street and understand it the first time he hears it.  And so the understanding of American Catholics of their faith becomes ever more superficial.

    Apparently, people are happy with platitudinous collects that say nothing, banal paraphrases that obscure the scriptural foundations of the mass, an awkward and ugly lectionary and outright omissions or mis-translations of theologically important words and phrases that can easily be understood in a heterodox way. This is the very best that it gets with the Novus Ordo in English today. If people are happy then it is unfortunate.

    “what has surfaced to “override” the previous papal ‘recognitio’ and why the soon-to-be-mandated texts put us on the right track for authentic worship.”

    What has surfaced is common sense, wisdom and forty years of experience – none of which was guaranteed to Pope Paul 6 by virtue of his office.

    The guarantee that we are on the right track to authentic worship is simply the fact that we will have an authentic translation of the authentic Latin Rite.

  • Bishops of Eastern Catholic eparchies probably don’t vote on Roman-rite liturgical matters, so the 2/3 vote criterion should be based on a number smaller than the whole USCCB membership.

  • Michigan, this is what you wrote:

    The conference of bishops in any particular region is only an advisory council.  It has never, through the whole history of the Church, been the case that it has been more.  This conference *by definition* has no juridical rights over individual bishops or over laypeople.  It is advisory only.

    This is what the apostolic letter you link says:

    As part of such regulation, the exercise of the sacred power of the Bishop “can be circumscribed by certain limits, for the advantage of the Church or of the faithful”.(75) This provision is found explicitly in the Code of Canon Law where we read: “A diocesan Bishop in the diocese committed to him possesses all the ordinary, proper and immediate power which is required for the exercise of his pastoral office except for those cases which the law or a decree of the Supreme Pontiff reserves to the supreme authority of the Church or to some other ecclesiastical authority”.(76)

    20. In the Episcopal Conference the Bishops jointly exercise the episcopal ministry for the good of the faithful of the territory of the Conference; but, for that exercise to be legitimate and binding on the individual Bishops, there is needed the intervention of the supreme authority of the Church which, through universal law or particular mandates, entrusts determined questions to the deliberation of the Episcopal Conference.

    This shows that the episcopal conference is more than just advisory. The episcopal conference is sometimes given authority to enact particular law for the Church in that country. That authority is never unlimited, nor can the bishops limit their own individual power in favor of the conference.

    As to your other point, that despite being sovereign in his own diocese, a bishop does not have the power to tinker with the Mass in his own diocese, except when the Vatican allows legitimate adaptations. The Vatican allows certain options to be decided upon either by the local bishop or even the priest celebrating the Mass. But those options are clearly defined and limited. It is not unlimited authority to tinker.

  • This portion says nothing about episcopal conferences.

    Are you being intentionally obtuse? “Other ecclesiastical authority” in this case means episcopal conference.

    You history is wrong as well:“This is the traditional understanding of the structure of the Church, which I’m very sure the 20th century didn’t have the power to change outright.”

    There is no “20th century Church”. There is just the Church.

    Also, she has in the past changed her structures and will probably do so again the future. The present structure did not spring full-fledged out of the apostoles, but developed over time. Yes, the basic structure of Pope and bishops is the same, but conferences and national entities and patriarchies and metropolitan bishops and provinces and whatnot have all developed over time.

    So the Church has the power to set up episcopal conferences and has done so. Whether you think that the way the US bishops’ conference is acting is appropriate or not is another issue, but the fact that it exists and that it has some authority delegated to it through canon law is indisputable.

    The rest of what you wrote is irrelevant.

    This is precisely my point:  the episcopal conference does not have power over and above the power given it by the Holy See and the bishops themselves.  It cannot invoke its own power.  It has none of its own.

    You’re arguing against a straw man here. No one here has said this and in fact I have blogged this quite often.

  • I am surprised that the US bishops sent their list of proposed “adaptations” to Rome with such a supportive vote (184-8). 

    Was this some “package deal” that the bishops had to endorse or reject as a whole, or were the bishops free to express themselves on each proposed adaptation? 

    I just find it hard to believe that all of the proposals (whatever they were) had just consistent support, since many of them are still the subjects of public debate.

  • Rome has a line-item veto on the adaptations, I think. Thus I think those who might be squeamish about some of them will approve them just to get the whole package moving and let Rome deal with the egregious ones.