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Irish priests claim new Mass translation is ‘elitist and sexist’

By on Friday, 4 February 2011

The new English translation of the Mass (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

The new English translation of the Mass (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

A group representing more than 400 of Ireland’s 4,500 priests has made an urgent plea to the country’s bishops to postpone the introduction of the new English translation of the Missal for at least another five years.

The call from the Association of Catholic Priests came as the National Centre for Liturgy in Maynooth launched a new publication aimed at explaining and preparing priests and lay people for the changes in the Missal. The new texts will be introduced on November 27, the first Sunday of Advent and the start of the liturgical year.

At a news conference in Dublin, representatives from the priests’ group said the proposed literal translations from Latin had produced texts that were “archaic, elitist and obscure and not in keeping with the natural rhythm, cadence and syntax of the English language”.

The association also criticised the new translation for “exclusivist, sexist language”.

Fr Dermot Lane, president of Mater Dei Institute of Education in Dublin, said the priests were making an 11th hour appeal to the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference and urged the bishops to begin consulting with priests, liturgical committees and lay people to develop new texts that would inspire and encourage the faithful.

“We are passionately concerned about the quality of our liturgical celebration and about the quality of the language that will be used in the way we worship Sunday after Sunday,” he said. “If this goes ahead, instead of drawing people into the liturgy, it will in fact draw people out from the liturgy.”

The association said that it was “gravely concerned” that the “word-for-word translation from Latin into a vernacular language … demonstrates a lack of awareness of the insights gained from linguistics and anthropology during the past 100 years”.

The translation was mandated by the Vatican’s 2001 instruction Liturgiam Authenticam (“The Authentic Liturgy”). The International Commission on English in the Liturgy met for several years to develop translations that more closely matched the original Latin prayers. Local bishops’ conferences also worked on the translations and submitted them to the Vatican for approval.

The priests’ association suggested that the Irish bishops follow the example of the German bishops and assert the right to make their own decisions regarding the celebration of the liturgy in Ireland.

Fr Gerard Alwill, pastor of a rural parish in the Diocese of Kilmore, said during the news conference: “We are saying very clearly that this new translation of the Missal is not acceptable… We are deeply concerned that if these new texts are imposed, they could create chaos in our church. Our Church doesn’t need chaos at this time.

“How can we, the priests, be asked to introduce this with any conviction when we ourselves haven’t had any input into it and when we have such serious doubts and reservations about it?” he added.

Fr Alwill called upon priests, parish pastoral councils, religious men and women and lay people to read the texts and to raise any concerns they may have with their local bishop.

  • Jorge

     The number of Catholic is growing worldwide. It also grows in the USA.

    The number of priests is also growing (still slowly, unfortunately). The number of deacons is growing fast.

    The point about the TEC is that they are not merely decreasing; they are _collapsing_. They lost 2.81% in 2010 alone (and the USA population grew that year).

    In 1950, the “mainline Protestants” were 50% of the USA population. Today they are 18%.

    That is not a temporary or moderate decline; that is destruction.

    Please don’t bring to the Catholic Curch the ideas that destroyed the “mainline Protestants”.

  • Jorge

     Please read this:

    The above is from a guy who loves the Tridentine Mass.

    When the SSPX learns a minimum of respect and obedience to the Magisterium, they will earn some respect again.

    But today, they are roadblocks in the popularization of the Tridentine Mass. Because of the SSPX, the Tridentine Mass has been associated with disrespect, dissent and conspiracy theories.

    I dream that the FSSP (and other orthodox organizations that promote traditional devotion) will absorb the members of SSPX.

  • Anonymous


    I’m not wasting another second on this topic. If you cannot see that Divine Providence has given us the SSPX at this time of crisis in the Church, and if you don’t realise that there would BE no FSSP or any other traditional Order BUT for the action of Archbishop Lefebvre, then you are either very dishonest or none too bright.  You tell me.  None of the stuff you’ve now sent me by email stands up to examination.

    It’s totally laughable to talk about not attending SSPX chapels for fear of imbibing the “schismatic spirit” when archbishops and priests are encouraging us to go along and listen to sermons delivered by real schismatics in diocesan churches. In one Glasgow parish today, for example, there is the following notice:  “Archbishop Conti invites you  to join him for Vespers on Tuesday May 24th 2011 at 7pm.  Preacher: Rt Rev Gregor Duncan, Episcopal Bishop United Diocese of Glasgow and Galloway.”

    I hear weekly sermons expounding Catholic doctrine on every topic and today a sermon on Our Lady for the month of Mary.  Where, please tell me, am I in most danger of imbibing a schismatic spirit?
    And in case you are still in doubt, go to the ecumenism page at and download the material there, including the last Protestant minister to preach in the presence of the Archbishop of Glasgow. Truly, you couldn’t make it up.

    Wake up and recognize the grace of God in the midst of this awful crisis and stop  falling for daft propaganda. Just because something comes from the Vatican, doesn’t make it infallible.  We need to distinguish some (often unnamed, anonymous)Vatican official and authoritative statements that bind our consciences.  Remember, some anonymous Vatican officials are still claiming that Fr Gruner is suspended. Tell that to the lawyer who read out his letter of incardination from the Archbishop of Hyderabad at the Fatima Conference in Rome last week (see Question and Answer sessions, video second from top of the screen.) Link from homepage at

    We are in a spiritual battle for the soul of the Church. You’re on the enemy’s side. Wake up.

    Please note that I am not going to respond to any more postings on this subject. We are now at the stage where the facts are out there in the public domain and the state of crisis in the Church is worsening by the day.  Some people are so poorly catechised that they fear criticising “The Church” “The Vatican” “The Pope” at any level so they are best left to themselves at this stage.  For intelligent people, the truth is readily available.  I am always willing to help anyone if I can but clearly there are some people I am unable to help and I can see that you are to be numbered among them. I’m much too busy to keep going over the same ground time and time again. So, I’m bowing out from this.  I wish you well. God bless.

  • Jorge

    > The
    Eastern Orthodox churches are growing? Can you give statistics? Russia
    and Greece seem to me just to go on as they always have.

    I don’t have numbers for Russia; but I sometimes read and the Russian Orthodox Church seems to

    1) be gaining influence in society

    2) Sometimes the Patriarch even participates in official state events, such as blessing a new ship.

    3) They are building new churches in Moscow at a fast pace

    Eastern Orthodoxy also grew in the USA:

    > One Council cannot contradict another?

    In matters of faith and morals, contradiction is impossible.

    > Do you mean to insinuate that the new bits in Vatican II are false?

    Of course not; I am saying there is nothing in Vatican II that contradicts previous Church teaching in matters in faith and morals.

  • Jorge

    > A little tolerance would be
    welcome all round, not just for the naysayers.

    Whoa, wait. What did you actually meant by this? Do you mean that the Holy See is more tolerant with the SSPX than with the Kungians?

    I believe in Catholicism, which means I am against both SSPX and the modernists.

    But I can’t fail to notice the hypocrisy of the modernists. When men like Frei Betto defend abortion these people side with him. But if the Holy see rescinds the SSPX excommunications, these people revolt.

    Their logic is thus:

    If we want to defend abortion, we are only following our conscience. The Church must never discipline us, or else the Church would be anti-intellectual.

    If Lefebvre consecrates bishops without authorizations, they should be excommunicated and preferably guillotined.

    To us, roses. To them, thorns.

    By this astronomical hypocrisy, you see the agenda of these people.

  • Jorge

    > In sevreral cases when the faithful got to actually see the texts the
    reactions were disappointment, deflection, embarrassed tittering.

    Did this happen to ordinary faithful, or to people who had been politicized by anti-Holy See priests?

  • Jorge

    > Not to mention the homoeroticism of much traditional liturgical prancing in cappa magnas and the like.

    By God, are you serious?

    One thing is for you to have these feelings. Another is for you to express them in public.

  • Tarquin

    Just read your equating of ‘love’ and ‘obedience’. Sorry I didn’t see this coming. I had no idea that they are so bound to one-another. I had no idea that Jesus himself had bound himself to obedience to the ‘legitimate’ religious authorities of his time. Perhaps we should be more inclined to ‘follow Christ’?

  • Tarquin

    This ‘new translation’ is clunky and cumbersome. Whoever described it as ‘poetic’ needs to take a beginners course in creative writing. It isn’t even as ‘faithful’ to the ‘original’ latin as its promoters think it is.
    My parish priest tried to get his tongue around a ‘new’
    Eucharist Prayer a couple of weeks ago. And, yes…As predicted, he found it a bit of a trial.
    The ‘new’ translation is supposed to be more reverential. Is this code for wordy, verbose, ‘clunky’ and archaic? If we really want authenticity we should consider how Jesus himself spoke to his apostles, directly, using straight-forward language that his followers could relate to and with compassion.

  • Tarquin

    Perhaps they should be burned at the stake. Done to a turn!

  • Tarquin

    Great way to attract converts. First of all tell them they are ignorant and needy!

  • Tarquin

    I’m not sure about ‘monstrous’ but it certainly ‘unprayable’. Why ‘chalice’ rather than ‘cup’? [for example]
    Why the constant ‘O God’ rather than just ‘God’ ?  The fact is, English is not Latin, it is a Germanic language. The spirit of the mass should be a spirit of love and fellowship, not of legalistic hair-splitting false piety imposed by a committee of prelates intent on creating barriers within the Church.

  • Hercule

     I wish you people who want to have get togethers for lovey dovey fellowship or whatever, would set up your own “liturgy” and leave the Mass to those who want to worship God.

    Friends of mine who are plodding on with the new Mass, told me today that they had all the fathers in the congregation called up to join the priest in the sanctuary on Sunday because it was Father’s Day with everyone clapping their hands off. So forgive me if I can’t take you people seriously with your moans and groans about the new translation. I’m beginning to realise why so many people are turning back to the traditional Latin Mass, it’s one way of getting away from the hippie types stuck in the swinging sixties.

  • Tarquin

    But Jesus himself instructed…he didn’t suggest, he instructed his followers to ‘love one-another’. Is it so difficult for the hierarchy to get their heads around that? He spoke the language off the common people, so that they could understand him. He told stories that spoke to the hearts of his disciples. Jesus came for all …Including the ‘hippie types’ you are so keen to disparage [whoever they are!!]. He even came to show the way for those pharisee-wannabes who can’t tell real poetic language from mangled pompous-speak.

  • Tarquin

    The new texts are less inclusive, less ‘sayable’ and [yes] more ‘pompous’. It is as though reverance is the same as verbal pomposity. True spirituality is of the heart, it is expressed through sincerity of language and expression not through archaic expressions and mangled language that likes to think itself as full of poetic reverence, but is in fact convoluted and contrived. 

  • Tarquin

    Wordy and convoluted re-phrasing is not good English nor is it a more fitting way to serve or address God.
    sincerity of heart is always best expressed through simple and straight-forward language. This new translation is suspect.

  • American Ultramontaine

    Input?!?  Input???  The priest wants to have “input” into the wording of the Sacred Liturgy, or else he can’t possibly introduce it with any conviction?
    How absurdly vain.  How much “input” did he have in the translation of the Bible, or the words of the Our Father?  Must every document that comes from Rome bear the “input” of Fr Alwill and every other priest in every other tiny rural parish in the English-speaking world?  Or is it just the (one time) Land of Saints and Scholars that is to have this privilege?

  • Kathleen Roberts

    What about the souls of those human beings your concerned about?  What God calls an abomination is what you have an argument with.  We who believe what God said are now called “homophobes” meaning their is something wrong with us.  Not real charitable from one who seeks charity.  We do not celebrate what God calls an abomination.  Do you?