Thursday, July 10, 2008

USCCB Takes Small Step For Laity, Large Leap For Autonomy

Catholic bishops reject changes to Mass prayers

By Daniel Burke Religion News Service

WASHINGTON - The nation's Catholic bishops have rejected a new translation of Mass prayers, a rare instance of U.S. prelates denying a Vatican-ordered liturgical change. While ballots are still coming in, it's clear they won't add up to the 166 needed to pass the new translation, said Sister Mary Ann Walsh, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. A two-thirds majority of the USCCB's Latin rite bishops is required for approval. Walsh said she could not recall another instance in which the U.S. bishops have rejected a full document of Vatican translations, though they have at times tinkered with individual phrases and words. At the bishops' semi-annual meeting in June, several prelates said the newly translated prayers, traditionally spoken by priests at Mass, were stilted and incomprehensible. One called them a "linguistic swamp."

After an inconclusive vote at the bishops' meeting in Orlando, Fla., the bishops not present at the gathering were asked to vote by mail. Known as the "Proper of Seasons," the prayers are said on Sundays, Holy Days and during liturgical seasons such as Lent, and change from day to day. Examples include the opening prayer, prayers said over the bread and wine, and prayer after Communion.
The late Pope John Paul II ordered the new translations to increase fidelity to the original Latin. Some Vatican liturgists say the church moved too quickly -- and sloppily -- in translating the Mass into local languages after the Second Vatican Council of the 1960s. The rejected translation will come up again, with amendments, at the USCCB's next meeting in November, Walsh said. The bishops have already approved one section of new Mass translations, including many prayers spoken by lay Catholics for a generation, despite the objections of a vocal minority. Ten more sections of the Mass remain to be approved and implementation is likely several years away, according to USCCB officials.

Bishop Galeone deserves a great deal of credit from US Catholic laity for voicing his concerns about the new English translation of the Mass at the recent meeting of the USCCB in Orlando, Florida. It was at this meeting that Bishop Galeone, in voicing his concerns seemed to 'open the floodgates' for other bishops who had similar misgivings. Archibishop Daniel Pilarczk of Cincinnati even argued that moving forward on the new texts would be 'a linguistic swamp.'
Because there were not enough bishops in attendance in Orlando to garner the necessary 2/3 majority to pass approval on the new texts, Cardinal George of Chicago, president of the USCCB, called for a mail in vote. I wonder how much mailing in opposition, rather than being videotaped voicing opposition, impacted the vote. In any event it's back to the drawing board for this particular section of the new texts.
Bishop Galeone leads the Diocese of St. Augustine, Florida and has not made himself much of a fan of traditionalists. I'm sure this singular rejection of this one aspect of the ICEL translation of the Mass will not endear him any further. His response to Bendict's moto proprio generated a lot of comment on traditionalist blogs. Even I have to admit that his response to the moto proprio seems to violate the spirit of it.
He stated that any priest who wished to say the Latin Mass had to understand Latin well enough so that the words were not just pronounced correctly, but that the priest understood them well enough to take meaning from them. On the surface this seems reasonable, but the fact is we have a lot of priests who are seriously challenged in their pronunciation of English and their understanding of it. My family's parish had a priest from Poland, and I swear things made more sense in Latin than when the Mass switched to English. It took me about two years to pick up his English cadence enough for me to really 'hear' what he was saying. Sermons were, well, a ho hum event. So, I can give the traditionalists a little slack on this objection.
Of course the real event here, is that the USCCB finally said 'no' to a Vatican initiative. I am actually so stunned by this I'm not sure what to write. We progressives haven't had any bone thrown our way in so long, I've forgotten what it feels like. We've had our isolated and lonely wolves crying in the Vatican wilderness, but a whole bishop's conference acting as a pack of wolves, is another thing entirely. I hesitate to get my hopes up, but it's hard not to when one believes the Holy Spirit really is alive and well--and doesn't need to be addressed in Latin or the English equivalent of Latin.
This has not been a good week for Cardinal Pell of Australia who was a leading voice in the ICEL translation. The US Bishops just threw him strike two. The Australian media threw him strike one, and he's still vainly attempting to foul that one off. In the meantime the 'annoying T shirt' industry is doing a box office business down under. A good time is being had by all, except the hotel industry, which is going to take a bath from lack of patrons. It seems youthful pilgrims would rather sleep in schoolrooms with sleeping bags than in four star hotels.
There's a lot going on right now between WYD, various sex scandals, and the Anglican schism over gays and women or both. The Lambeth conference is probably going to be more of a support group for the battered Rowan Williams than a real conference. He's even resorted to the ubiquitous hand ringing query "What would Jesus do?" My reply "God only knows." I suspect WYD is going to serve the same sort of function for Cardinal Pell and Pope Benedict. It's sort of synchronous that they will both be going on at the same time.
In the meantime-pun intended-on the Archbishop Burke front, we find out that he apparently authorized the video taping of the ordination of the two women priests he excommunicated, and that was the evidence used to put Sr. Louise Fears under interdict. No pun intended with regards to her last name.
A 'loyal' Catholic asked permission to undertake the project. It goes with out saying that 'loyal' Catholic was not excommunicated for his/her attendance at said offensive event. Now it looks as if we have to worry about undercover surveillance as Catholics, and here I thought all the surveillance we're under by our government was bad enough. I bet all those dissenting USCCB bishops can't wait to see how all the 'loyal' Catholics come out of the woodwork to tape and record their every single move and word. I guess it's just another left brained logical step in the fight for the soul of the Church. George Orwell must be laughing himself sick.


  1. Colleen, I think I may have made this comment on your blog already, months ago. But if not, here it is, for what this is worth.

    I don't remember ever having heard of Cardinal Pell until Benedict was elected. At that time, I saw Pell for the first time on EWTN, being interviewed by Raymond Arroyo about the election of Benedict.

    My reaction when I listened to and watched Pell was, well, frankly, one of visceral repulsion. He struck me as just oily. And when he ended the interview with a wink, when he stated to Arroyo that the youth would love Benedict, I wanted to go and wash the interview off somehow.

    What struck me was the sense that we were witnessing, with this papal election, a totally engineered event that would not, on the whole, be a happy event for the church. There was a sense, in the interview, that the game being played was all about demonstrating that "the youth" (as in JPII youth) were falling all over themselves to welcome Benedict.

    That game overlooks the huge number of Catholic youth who don't find the church today convincing at all. When the future of the whole institution is sacrificed to a tiny minority, and when it's being sacrificed to that minority to keep an odious system of clericalism in place, something is terribly wrong.

  2. At the rate these guys are making such obvious mistakes, the only people left to follow them will be the 'youthful' who don't wish to take on the responsibility of thinking for themselves. I wish that 'youthfullness' was a chronological thing, but it's not.

    I'll say one thing for Pell, he has certainly put the Australian Church front and center. Maybe not totally the way he intended though. I love Australia. They have such a great sense of humor, and such a willingness to call a phoney a phoney. I am beginning to wonder though if their rightwingnuts aren't further to the right of ours. That would be from self delusional to pathological.

  3. I've been thinking the videotaping of the ceremony, and the article today where the rabbi stated that she had not given permission for the taping.

    The two women who were ordained were excommunicated in March by AB Burke. My understanding of excommunication is that they are no longer part of the Catholic Community.

    The "congregation" that they are now part of is not recognized by the Catholic Church as a valid "congregation".

    What concern is it of the diocese if a non-catholic woman is ordained into a non-catholic congregation?

    Non-catholics, unrecognized non-catholic congregation, non-catholic ceremony performed by a non-catholic female rabbi ... what was the "violation" Sr. Louise committed by attending?

    Covert videotaping of a private ceremony by an agent of the diocese without the express permission of the participants, publication of the photos without the written consent of those photographed ...

    Sounds to me like they have ample grounds for a very expensive civil lawsuit of the diocese. Would any of that be grounds for criminal charges as well?

  4. sigh ... missed a critical piece of information when I read the article ... the ordination ceremony was in November. That does change things a bit. (organic brain syndrome really sucks)

    Although, did I read somewhere recently of a ruling that even pursuing ordination is automatic self-excommunication for the woman?

  5. Carl, I wouldn't be surprised if e pursuing ordination isn't an excommunicable offense, although I don't know for sure if it is.

    I do know though that when the original women from womenpriests were ordained it was done by existing bishops, and that Bishop Friesen was elevated to the bishopric by three current Catholic bishops. I wonder who these bishops are, but I bet not as much as the Vatican wonders who they are.

    I bet AB Burke will get right on that mystery.