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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.

  • Ratbag

    We need these priests like… a hole in the head!

  • Ratbag

    Oh, how I agree with you! Spot on!

    There should be some tough love metered out on these Father Trendys!

  • Ratbag

    When I was a kid, we used to nickname the ‘hymn’ “Bind Us Together, Lord” as the ‘egg’ hymn!

    I grew up with these masses – Lord, I’ve been short-changed!

  • Ratbag

    Liturgical dance?!!!???!!! Gracious me! I thought that went out with kipper ties, kidney soup and Pan’s People – so, it’s still going on? I’m gobsmacked! These dissenters are the same. Outdated, outmoded out of their minds!

    They won’t embrace these improvements lightly – rather like those stuck-in-a-rut employees who felt threatened by the arrival of the fax machine, word processors and push-button phones years ago!

    For them, it means they have to do more work, more study and less ‘me’ time.

    Tough!

  • Jimbo

    This lot ought to concentrate on the outrages committed against the catholic church from within their ranks and concentrate on doing penance for same.Less navel gazing and more accepting of the Pope’s leadership is called for rather than the intellectual snobbery of the “we know best brigade’!

  • Jimbo

    Absolutely spot on !!!

  • James

    I feel great when I read this stuff. I have grieved for forty years having to listen to some of the trash being dished up and being told that failure to obey was tantamount to being branded a heretic for not going along with the “Spirit of Vatican 2′. I have tried very hard to follow the directions from Rome and now find that at least some of our bishops are either openly defying the Holy Father or at best dragging their feet in regards to the SP while at the same time telling us we should remember to obey them.

  • james

    Love it!

  • Jimbo

    Maybe we should send them a new Oliver Cromwell !

  • Tarquin

    There seems to be a lot of intemperate language here! The new translation is supposed to be closer to the Latin and this makes it, we are told, more authentic. But it really doesn’t seem to flow particularly well and it is rather ‘clunky’ and legalistic. It seems as though the Church is heading towards a more ‘Pharisaic’ mode and we must comply or be damned. Where is the love of Christ in all this?

  • Josephsoleary

    Will MIke Malone et al stick around to live with the wretched new translation when they are imposed on Nov 27? I just celebrated Easter with 5 young girls doing a liturgical dance. We need more of this, less of your groaning and mouthing about “dissent”.

  • Josephsoleary

    Jimbo, you are angry with the bishops for imposing the current translation — but I predict you will be ten times as angry when you have to live with the monstrous new translation that they are now imposing. Or are you only interested in Latin?

  • Josephsoleary

    Oh yes it could be worse — and is…

  • Josephsoleary

    The caterwauling is not only from liberals but from many who care deeply for the dignity and beauty of English in the liturgy, notably those who appreciate the 1998 translation dumped without explanation by the Vatican. Very many of them longed for an improvement on the current translations, especially on the sawdust proper prayers (collect, secret etc.). They got what they longed for and what we all long for in 1998 and Rome shot it down. Now the 2008 (or drastically altered 2010) text is being dumped on us, and it is dreck. You feverish anti-liberals ought to study it in order to know what you are talking about. You are heading for buyer’s remorse like those who backed Blair and Bush in their Iraq crusade.

  • Josephsoleary

    I love the French version too — but you know that it, too, is target for Vatican hatcheting.

    I agree, as an Irish priest, with your criticisms. But they do nothing whatever to justify the linguistic and theological crime now in the making. If you really care about decent langauge in the liturgy, call for a second chance for the 1998 translation.

  • Josephsoleary

    The replies are only a small part of the litrugy, quantitatively, and have not been greatly changed. It is the unprayable and even unreadably preces, prefaces and Eucharistic Prayers that I would complain about.

  • Josephsoleary

    Your dialogue would be more persuasive if you gave signs of actually having studied the new translations.

  • Josephsoleary

    Ratbag, if you attend Mass it will be you who have to gnaw on the hard cheese of the unprayable new translation.

  • Josephsoleary

    Karmenu of Malta, a translation that is unprayable is almost as bad as one that is heretical, imho.

  • Josephsoleary

    I predict that the rage the people on this thread have so unjustly vented on Irish priests will shortly be vented on those who have imposed on us a monstrous, unprayable new translation of the liturgy, which will only further impoverish our spiritual and liturgical lives. Since none of the correspondents quotes the new translations or shows any sign of familiarity with them, I urge them to read the passages quoted in the following in order to make a more rational judgment: http://josephsoleary.typepad.com/my_weblog/2010/12/wikileaks-announces-new-text-of-roman-missal.html

  • Anonymous

    The “monstrous, unprayable new translation of the liturgy” to which you refer, is not new at all.

    The Pope is merely trying to restore prayers that have been lost in the new order of Mass, and these “monstrous” prayers have nourished saints and martyrs for centuries.

    Having visited your website and noted that you are a fully paid up member of the feminist/gay ideology brigade, I can’t take your comments too seriously at all. Except that you are a priest (according to another post from you) and given all the nasty comments on the Catholic Herald (and other) blogs about the SSPX being “schismatic” it seems very unjust that you and other priests like you are permitted free rein to pass on your errors and even heresies, because you are (laughably) “priests in good standing.”

    Give me a “schismatic” any day.

  • Anonymous

    You are a disobedient priest. Liturgical dance is not permitted. Obviously, as a dissenter yourself, you don’t want “groaning and mouthing about dissent.”

    To call the new translation (of the ever newer New Mass) “wretched” is disgraceful.

  • Anonymous

    The love of Christ in all this, Tarquin, is in obeying the legitimate authority of the Church. The time for disobedience was when the Roman authorities changed the Mass in the first place, forbidden in Session 7 of the Council of Trent. That was the time for disobedience. Now that the Pope is, albeit belatedly, trying to restore, bit by bit, what has been lost through the introduction of the novus ordo – that “wretched, monstrous and unprayable” (to quote Josepholeary) novus ordo Mass, it’s time to obey.

  • Anonymous

    What, and you think “sexy” girls dancing about the sanctuary helps people to pray? Get a grip,

  • Anonymous

    I’ve just seen a photo in a so-called Catholic newspaper in the UK, of two Irish “nuns” handing a gift to the Dalai Lama. I have regular messages from Irish men and women, in despair about the state of the Church there. See the report on Irish priest Fr Thaddeus Doyle on the Fatima page at http://www.catholictruthscotland.com

    Ireland is now about as Catholic as Libya. And just about as peaceful, spiritually speaking.

  • Anonymous

    You are a total disgrace to speak as you do and claim to be a priest. Increasingly, I’m wondering about the validity, not just of the modern Mass (the world famous liturgist Klaus Gamber said that he was convinced that the number of invalid Masses has increased since the introduction of the novus ordo, no doubt about it) but also about the validity of many, if not most, ordinations.

    Your hatred of authentic Catholicism is tangible. Convince me I’m wrong.

  • Anonymous

    What do you mean by “unprayable”?

    Do you think the Rosary is “unprayable”?

    Or do you pray the Rosary? Not just curious – I have a very good reason for asking.

    So?

  • Anonymous

    His Holiness doesn’t seem to know anything about what any of the bishops and clergy are saying. Which makes him culpably ignorant. That is, he will be held accountable for NOT knowing, NOT acting.

  • Anonymous

    What a silly thing to say. You appear to be entirely ignorant of the fact that what is to you and your liberal think(not)-a-likes is “new” is in fact a restoration of the authentic liturgical prayers of the Mass. I don’t need to “study” it – I attend a Traditional Latin Mass every week, at least once a week if not more often, and so I am familiar with what you consider to be a “new” translation.

    Wake up and smell the Catholicism.

  • Anonymous

    Listen, Josepholeary, what you and your fellow dissidents care deeply about is not the dignity and beauty of English in the liturgy (an aberration – the official language of the Church and the liturgy is and remains Latin – see Vatican II) – no, what you lot care about is the fact that you will no longer be centre stage.

    It won’t any longer be “High there, I’m Father Joe, welcome to our weekly celebration of Mass. WOW are we going to have fun today. Our liturgical dancers will be entertaining us soon, and the Eucharistic Monsters will be coming on in due course, so hang in there, fun all round folks.

    Now for the bidding prayers. Lord, make the President of Libya resign (Colonal Gaddaffi in case you don’t know his name) and make the people elect a really caring left wing socialist of the Communist brand to share out the food more fairly, and help them to build palaces that will house them and their minions and allow them to live in luxury akin to the luxury of the other ‘elected’ dictators around the world… Lord Hear Us….”

    And what’s with the “we don’t study it” – I live in Scotland where we had to suffer the ICEL brigade, Bishop Maurice Taylor of extremely unhappy memory and the professional dissenter Fr John Fitzsimmons of Paisley, who wouldn’t know a Catholic thought it is came up and smacked him on the mouth. That’s all changed now, of course, because he’s deceased – and will have been confronted with his every error and vulgarity, published to the world in various newspaper interviews and reports. He was the darling of the Scottish news media.

    You, Josepholeary, are cut from the same Fitzsimmons cloth. As they say in England – think on.

  • Anonymous

    Don’t you worry yourself. God understands.

  • Josephsoleary

    The rather bizarre postings from an angry Scotsman accusing me, very falsely, of not praying the rosary, show the impossible situation of thsoe who defend the new translations without even having looked at them. The rosary is of course prayable and has been the prayer of Catholics for centuries. The new translations are a monstrously unprayable text. Of course there is a lot of sawdust in the present translation as well, but the 1998 translations seem to have been an excellent revision and it is a great tragedy that Rome turned them down, especially in view of the dreck that is now to be dumped on us. Convince you of this? Just READ the translations and if you have an ounce of sensitivity to language and in particular to the language of prayer you will see it for yourself.

  • Josephsoleary

    Sorry,but since you have not even looked at the new translations you are talking through your hat.

  • Anonymous

    Listen, only this morning I was talking to an Irish priest and asked him what he thought of you lot and your new Association. “Not a lot” was the reply (from this young priest) and he added that “hardly anybody bothers about them.”

    Reflect.

  • Josephsoleary

    Exactly what I’d have thought myself. But can you find another group of 400 Irish priests who will share your enthusiasm for the new translation or your glee that Vatican II is a mere blip on the radar screen of history? What you may discover is that Irish priests are a cagy, silent lot.

  • Anonymous

    I’m not angry in the sense that you mean. YOU are the one who is emotionally charged up and furious that your days as a cross between a stand-up comic and the presenter of the Royal Variety Performance are all but over.

    And stop lying – I did not accuse you of not praying the Rosary although I notice that you don’t say that you do pray the Rosary, merely that it has been the prayer of Catholic for centuries. That wasn’t my question. As you know perfectly well. The Traditional Latin Mass has also been the prayer of Catholic for centuries. Is that “unprayable” too?

    Were you pleased when Summorum Pontificum emphasised what the educated among us always knew, that the TLM has never been abrogated and every priest has every right to offer it? Or was this – in the words of Fr Mile Fallon – a return to regressive theology” (for which read “authentic Catholic theology”)

    I’m waiting, full of the joys of Easter and with a big smile on my totally UN-angry face. I’m waiting, Sugar Plum.

  • Anonymous

    What makes you think I haven’t looked at the new translation?

    Keep trying. One of these blog posts you’re bound to be right about something. Law of averages.

  • Anonymous

    Wrong.

  • Anonymous

    Now, there’s an idea!

  • Anonymous

    I note your lengthy silence on the links I sent you two months ago with irrefutable evidence of just how wrong you are about the SSPX. Interesting. Do you modernists not know how to say “Sorry, I got it wrong?”

  • Anonymous

    You appear to be totally and blissfully ignorant of the fact that Vatican II emphasised that Latin remains the official language of the Church and the liturgy. Have you READ the documents of Vatican II?

    If so, cite the passages which say the priest should face the people, the altar rails should be removed, the high altar should be ripped out and the tabernacle placed on a pedestal, with all flowers and candles consigned to the dustbin, and the priest kick start the whole thing with a couple of topical jokes. Oh and the bit where it forbids kneeling and receiving on the tongue. Those bits. All of them.

    Because, I can’t find those bits anywhere. But then, I’m a simple gal. Help me out.

  • Anonymous

    “Exactly what you’d HAVE thought yourself” – past tense? Now, given your regular postings on their blog, I take it you’ve changed your mind?

    400 you say? Are their names listed anywhere, because I’d like to know who they are. We have a solid following in Ireland and I think they need to know who the priests are with the openly schismatic spirit in their souls and not a lot in between their ears. So, point us to a list, please, asap.

    Irish priests a “cagy silent lot”? Well, let me assure you of one thing; priests of a traditional leaning the world over are a “cagy silent lot” for the simple reason that they are punished and viciously persecuted for showing the slightest sign of unease with the new (and getting newer by the minute) Mass. Unlike you, who can run a blog promoting dissent on just about everything, and get away with it, they would be persecuted for speaking out.

    For, the priest I mentioned in an earlier post, knew your name immediately, Irish priest in Japan. As if the Catholics in Japan don’t have enough to deal with, what with earthquakes, tsunamis and nuclear leaks, without a blatant dissenter (to say the least) undermining the Faith.

    The wrong priests are the “cagy silent lot” if you ask me. Not that you did.

  • Anonymous

    Why do you modernists/liberals, whatever it is that you are, why do you always resort to personal abuse – oops, I forgot. It’s because you cannot sustain your position for any length of time, because it’s – how can I put it without being offensive…. – wacky.

    I visited the link to see which passages of the new translation you’d selected and laughed out loud when I saw your headline: Wikileaks Announces New Text of Roman Missal… Puleeeeeese!

    Anyway, having checked out the passage from the Wikileaks article, all I can say is… what’s your problem?

    You cited (on your blog) a couple of “ands” and “ifs” that don’t meet your Oxford English Dictionary language preference. SO? Apologies for the repetition of “because” in my first paragraph (gimme strength). Did nobody tell you in seminary that liturgical speak is a wee bit different from the “Hi Jimmy, gies a couple o’ bags o’ chips and a haggis pie, pal, OK? Ta mate…” conversational level in your average take-away – or modern diocesan parish church?

    Grow up.

  • Josephsoleary

    If people do not have the courge to speak out, and whine instead about being persecuted if they do, then of course they are cowards. But you question the ACP’s statisttics of membership and point to alleged silent majorities who are just afratid to speak their minds in order to bolster the false claim that priests are widely opposed to the vernacular liturgy. There is not the slightest evidence for this outrageous claim.

  • Josephsoleary

    As the phrase “very falsely” would have suggested to a more sensitive reader, I do in fact pray the rosary every day — though my prayer life is otherwise pretty poor. Why not relax and enjoy Catholic and scriptural tradition — try reading some upbuilding spiritual literature — instead of worrying about alleged abuses. Btw, if you quote the Pope as an authority when it suits you, please note that he celebrated mass for the beatification of Mother Teresa along with this then aphasic predecessor and their was liturgical dancing by Indian women at that Mass; there has been liturgical dancing at several other papal events — so I do not see how you can say it is forbidden.

  • Josephsoleary

    Paulpriest, have you read the new translations? Do you realize its critics come from all parts of the ecclesial spectrum?

  • Josephsoleary

    Why is it disgraceful? You yourself have used equally critical language about Vatican II and the current transltion. Your position seems arbitrary and illogical.

  • Josephsoleary

    You’ll find all these arguments discussed and refuted at many places on Fr Anthony Ruff’s blog, praytellblog.com.

    He has studied this all his life, in Rome, Vienna etc. Vatican II specified greater use of the vernacular. The council bishops and Paul VI went on to implement full vernacularization as the way forward, something welcomed by the vast majority of Catholics. The Latin text remains normative, of course. You seem to believe that Catholics should celebrate in Latin even if they are ignorant of the Latin language — which in the past meant reading their prayerbook or reciting the rosary while Mass went on. I do not see how such a situation can be reconciled with the active participation of Vatican II. Do you also think sermons and scripture readings should be in Latin? My own language of preference for celebration would be Latin, but I have never found that the faithful want this or ask for it.

  • Josephsoleary

    The bishops have succumbed — how te faithful will react to the garbage remains to be seen.

  • Anonymous

    Ruff? Are you kidding me? Another defiant priest
    http://thatthebonesyouhavecrushedmaythrill.blogspot.com/2011/02/fr-anthony-ruff-osb-protests-against.html

    I took a quick tour of his blog and he’s clever, all right, but not in any scholarly sense. He doesn’t come right out and say he is all for women priests (unless I’ve missed it, in my quick skim) but it’s pretty clear that he is a dissenter on that subject as well. Just as, reading your blog piece on “Gay” marriage, I got the clear impression that you wouldn’t miss a heartbeat if you had to ask Adam & Steve if they took each other for better or worse, richer or poorer, etc etc. Please correct me if I’m wrong – I mean, clearly. Don’t say that I am accusing you of being pro-”gay” marriage – I’m telling you that I got that impression from your blog. Tell me, in words of one syllable, if I’m wrong.

    So – Ruff? No thanks.

    And of COURSE the faithful don’t clamour for the return of Latin. Bugnini’s Mass has done its work. They’ve been protestantised and now those of us who refuse to accept the novelties imposed on us in the past fifty years are having to use the same arguments to defend Latin and the Sacrifice of the Mass to remind Catholics of their Catholicity, that we were once taught to use against Protestant critics. Unbelievable. It’s the medieval reformation all over again, with alleged Catholics sleepwalking into an entirely new “church” with contemporaries of Martin Luther leading them by the King James Bible…

    For your information, where I attend Mass, we have the readings twice – once in Latin and then in English. A double dose.