Two thumbs down for new Roman missal

America Magazine reports that attendees at conferences of the North American Academy of Liturgy and the Catholic Academy of Liturgy in San Francisco were frustrated with the way the new missal is being introduced and are displeased with the quality of the translation. In Ireland, the Association of Catholic Priests calls the missal coming online next November is sexist, archaic, elitist and obscure, and want their Bishops to send it back to Rome.

At the same time all of these groups appear resigned to the inevitability of its implementation.

America reports:

Bernadette Gasslein, editor of the Canadian liturgical periodical Celebrate!, said many liturgists are worried about the practical challenges to the missal’s implementation and acceptance. “Ritual behavior is always hard to change,” Gasslein said. “One would have thought that a congregation that deals with ritual behavior would have understood that.” Gasslein believes that a staggered, slower introduction of the new missal, such as the Australian church is planning, would have been a more pastoral approach. Instead, the new translation is scheduled to be used starting on the first Sunday of Advent (Nov. 27, 2011), a season in the liturgical calendar that typically draws the participation of “people who haven’t been to Mass since last Easter.”

One measure of the level of the disquiet among liturgists is a recent open letter to U.S. bishops from Anthony Ruff, O.S.B. Father Ruff has decided to withdraw from speaking engagements at eight dioceses around the United States intended to help promote the new missal. In his letter, he said that it is something he no longer can agree to “with integrity.” Father Ruff wrote, “I’m sure bishops want a speaker who can put the new missal in a positive light, and that would require me to say things I do not believe.” He submitted the letter with the permission of his Benedictine superiors.

Father Ruff, who teaches theology at St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minn., served as chairman of I.C.E.L.’s music committee. “My involvement in that process,” he wrote, “as well as my observation of the Holy See’s handling of scandal, has gradually opened my eyes to the deep problems in the structures of authority of our church.

“The forthcoming missal is but a part of a larger pattern of top-down impositions by a central authority that does not consider itself accountable to the larger church,” Father Ruff wrote. “When I think of how secretive the translation process was, how little consultation was done with priests or laity, how the Holy See allowed a small group to hijack the translation at the final stage, how unsatisfactory the final text is, how this text was imposed on national conferences of bishops in violation of their legitimate episcopal authority…and then when I think of Our Lord’s teachings on service and love and unity…I weep.”

The Irish Times says:

[The Association of Catholic Priests] has called on the Irish Catholic Bishops Conference not to introduce the third edition of The Roman Missal until it has consulted with priests and laity. The conference has said, however, that the new missal is “set in stone”.

Thousands of changes have been made to the current missal, the association said at a press conference yesterday. And the language used, a more literal translation of the Latin missal, is not in keeping with the “natural rhythm, cadence and syntax” of English.

“The association is gravely concerned that this literal translation from Latin has produced texts that are archaic, elitist and obscure,” the association said.

“Many women will be rightly enraged at the deliberate use of non-inclusive language.” The new translation perpetuated an “exclusivist, sexist language”, it said….

…Theologian Fr Dermot Lane highlighted a change in words used at consecration which currently state Jesus died “for you and for all”, but have been changed to “for you and for many”. The shift implies “Christ was for some, not all”, he said.

The German hierarchy had rejected a new version sent to them and “Rome accepted that”, Fr Lane said; the Irish hierarchy could do the same.

Not likely. Both America and The Irish Times report that for all intents and purposes the new translation is “set in stone” and the Irish Bishops have chided the priests for complaining about the book before it was published.

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