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March 13, 2011

Comments

Percy

Well, that sounds like a might ex cathedra statement of there being only one morally correct course. Funny how the trend towards moral absolutism shows up, mobius-like, in this case.

The moral cause does not excuse clerical unilateralism here. That is, this is a perfect occasion for a priest to act on the consensus of his community at large (not just the community's pastoral council, which will tend to suffer from selection bias) - no, but the entire community. Really put Vatican II on the line here, not merely for the sake of personal preference. And consensus is not a mere majority, or even a supermajority. It's not unanimity, of course, but it does mean something more than 2/3 majority. And the decision has to be presented in a way that does not stack the deck in favor of what the celebrant wants; if anything, he has to make as much room for non-consent to his preference as possible.

Without that consent by consensus, the priest could in good conscience follow the path then implement the translation with the awareness that: (i) it provides the community experiential engagement with the translation's bad or good aspects - something the community need to judge for itself without being led to a conclusion by the priest, and (ii) it is an opportunity for spiritual solidarity with non-clerical Catholics, who never have the luxury of this choice. Solidarity is otherwise a sham, if it does not include things we don't like and that we have don't have the power to avoid. The Spirit of Vatican II should not be a Potemkin village for getting our own way, our own self-righteousness, for the ostensible benefit of our flock.

Tom in U City

The question of what pastors might do about the horrid translation is difficult. Their entire lives, professional, social, and economic, are tied to their bishops and other priests.

They are constantly under examination and subject to arbitrary re-assignments or having their benefits and retirement plans removed. There is no recognized freedom of speech or allowance for conscientious objection from their bishops. There are no checks or balances for them, just as there are none for their parishioners.

That is the catch. Their own clerical power over people mirrors the bishops clerical power over them.

It seems that the cannot publicly oppose this wicked imposition on English speaking Catholics, but passive resistance is possible.

I suggest that pastors refrain from speaking about the translation at all and refrain from spending any money to support its imposition. They should not make any effort to get the faithful to make the transition. Most people will continue to respond as they have for two generations and see no need to change.

If I remember correctly, even the bishop cannot require the pastor to let anyone else other than the bishop preach at parish Masses. Let the bishop come to each parish to harangue the parishioners and see how little they like it.

To spare the people further, pastors can simply omit the presidential prayers at Collect, Offertory, Communion, and Post-communion. Most people hardly listen to them anyway. They make no substantial contribution to either the Liturgy of the Word or the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

What most people will notice is only that the Mass got a little shorter. If the bishop asks specifically what they like about the new translation, people will mention that.

I guess the Curial collaborators and active participants in the Rescind the Reform movement will have their agents and informers tattling to chancery officials. The pastors will just have to let the resultant rants go in one ear and out the other and honestly tell the bishop and his flunkies that they are doing the best they can to implement the "new" old missal in a pastoral manner.

Spirit of Vatican II

Percy, you show an interesting attitude to conscientious objectors: "statement of there being only one morally correct course... moral absolutism... clerical unilateralism here."

You recommend instead "for a priest to act on the consensus of his community at large (not just the community's pastoral council, which will tend to suffer from selection bias) - no, but the entire community."

Certainly, that would be an ideal. But a very difficult one in practice. The best thing is to do nothing, just continue with the current text. One could, however, invite parishioners to look at the new translations and see if they really would like to see them introduced.

"consensus is not a mere majority, or even a supermajority. It's not unanimity, of course, but it does mean something more than 2/3 majority."

Now it sounds as if you fear (rightly) that the parishioners would not clamor for the new translations, so that the notion of consensus must be redefined.

"he has to make as much room for non-consent to his preference as possible."

Again you reduce a question of CONSCIENCE to one of PREFERENCE -- a ploy regularly used in the current debate.

"Without that consent by consensus, the priest could in good conscience follow the path then implement the translation with the awareness that: (i) it provides the community experiential engagement with the translation's bad or good aspects - something the community need to judge for itself without being led to a conclusion by the priest, and (ii) it is an opportunity for spiritual solidarity with non-clerical Catholics, who never have the luxury of this choice."

Even bishops now do not have the luxury. I suppose priests won't have it either. You seem to think that the people will be able to reject the new translations if they don't like them -- nothing could be further from the truth! That is why if priests do not boycott the translations NOW, the faithful will suffer the consequences for decades. This could be a situation of Chernobylian toxicity.

Percy

"a very difficult one in practice."

It shouldn't be, if the priest has truly gotten to know his flock broadly and deeply, and given them means to express their discernments broadly and deeply. This is where the real Vatican II begins; if the priest has been negligent in starting this process, this is a good opportunity to start. Difficulty is no excuse (I am appalled when fellow progressives seem to think democracy from the pope on downward is going to happen without priests first yielding to their own flocks in the local context. What a sham of progressivism.) Priest who simply use their own sense of their flock to rationalize their own preferences are simply Pio Nono in progressive drag. And, generally, human beings will tend to prefer a distant to a local autocrat.

Actually, the issue is whether the people will clamor to retain the old translation. Some communities very well might.

But the path you suggest is simply a similar path (with even less fiduciary authority for it) by which a priest might reject the conciliar missal and impose the preconciliar missal on his flock. Since, as a progressive, I would view that result with horror, I look with sadness on fellow progressives who cherry pick their rationalizations to achieve our own ends - because that ultimately will undermine the credibility of the postconciliar reforms.

Percy

PS: Priests come and go; the flock remains. The flock should at least get a serious vote when the priest proposes to refuse a new missal edition, because the flock will at some point get a new priest who very likely have different ideas, and the consequences will be borne by the flock.

Having seen this kind of thing in liturgical affairs first-hand in very progressive Catholic communities, what people in the flock most regret is that the priests took such action without getting their informed consent - the priest's self-conception as offering prophetic witness is revealed to be egoism and self-absorption.

shane

The new translation is clunky and 'bureaucratic' in parts but it's still vastly better than the current version. I'll never understand how that was ever approved in the first place.

The Novus Ordo should be in Cranmerian English with EP1 in Latin.

me

Dear Joseph,

You write, "The bishops were torn between Rome and the faithful. They sold out on the faithful"

This claim seems to suggest that the laity are opposed to the new translation. Yet this seems to be an unsubstantiated claim. It looks as if there are as many who like as who do not. The rest do not seem to care.

Tom in U City

"what people in the flock most regret is that the priests took such action without getting their informed consent" Percy @ 9:51 PM

"(I am appalled when fellow progressives seem to think democracy from the pope on downward is going to happen without priests first yielding to their own flocks in the local context. What a sham of progressivism.)" Percy @ 9:28 PM

"That is the catch. Their own clerical power over people mirrors the bishops clerical power over them." Tom @ 7:08 AM

The repeated problem is the mistake held commonly on RCC right and left that unity requires uniformity, sometimes expressed as "my way or the highway."

I have seldom, if ever, seen a serious discussion in US RC parishes since the 1960s regarding liturgy in which expertise was held in higher respect than personal feelings. This is from pastor down to callow youth.

It must seem easier and more traditional to pastors to behave the same way CDW is behaving now.

OTOH, I have also seen pastors slapped down by bishops for sharing too much decision making power with parishioners. It can be done under the present system but it requires being two faced with an official version for the chancery clerics and a de facto but unpublished version for the parishioners. I think it worth it, but it is tiring to both do the consultation and maintain the facade simultaneously.

Spirit of Vatican II

To "me" -- the new translation is UNKNOWN to the laity and even to most priests still, so of course they have not expressed opposition. Percy's call for priests to put it to a vote is impractical because the laity would first have to know the new translation. I think a better method is to continue using the current translation while inviting the faithful to get to know the new translation -- then after a certain period ask the faithful if they want the new translation. In the meantime, there is no necessity whatever to inflict the drecky new translation on anybody. Priests need not bestir themselves; Do nothing is the best advice.

Percy

"Do nothing" is now revealed to be a self-serving rationalization, a Potemkin village for old-fashioned clericalism. There's not an iota of it that is progressive.

me

Dear Spirit,

It is unknown and the only way they could possibly know it is by having the priests pray it in public.

How can one come to "know" a prayer without praying it?

You have simply created a system that will cause the result that you want.

If you were consistent, it would seem that you would advocate a time in which the prayer was prayed in public, and then and only then have the laity vote on it.

Spirit of Vatical II

"If you were consistent, it would seem that you would advocate a time in which the prayer was prayed in public, and then and only then have the laity vote on it."

That sounds like the petition of Msgr Ryan, which I signed. Unfortunately, the hierarchy have firmly ruled out any such process of consulting the laity.

Wu wei -- do nothing -- passive resistance. I really do not see any better policy. If the clergy simulate enthusiasm for the dreadful new translations, the laity will respond with their own version of passive resistance - resulting in a further decline in liturgical vitality, a further drifting of feet toward the exit...

I think all other Christian churches consult the laity -- why not ours?

me

Spirit,

Through your "passive resistance" you are really doing the same thing that you claim the Vatican is doing. You are forcing your view on the laity.

Your current position is essentially: "Because I cannot have my way, I will deprive others of the ability to discern whether this new translation is good or not."

Without hearing and seeing the new translation prayed in public no one can make an informed decision.

What if a majority of the laity actually supported it, then would you support it?

Spirit of Vatican II

"me", whatever a priest chooses to do he is forcing his choice on the laity. The laity have no say in the matter; such is the authoritarian structure of the church. You are merely reminding me that priests have no say in the matter either, and that my suggestion of doing nothing is intolerable in the Catholic world. But you cannot have it both ways. You cannot claim for the laity the right to reject a liturgy they find unprayable while denying any such rigth to priests.

Meanwhile, recall what St Paul said: "whatever does not proceed from conviction is sin".

As to your last question, I would answer yes -- trusting the sensus fidelium more than the current hierarchical behavior that is in contradiction with Vatican II. But I do not, of course, believe that a majority of the laity will be happy with this dreck. The outcry in South Africa was very revealing on that score.

Percy

A priest simply doesn't get more of a vote than each layperson in the community. If one takes a Vatican II approach to understanding the presidential prayers, they are communal, not unilaterally the presiders, so he doesn't get a unique veto over them. If anything, a servant leader's vote counts last and least among the flock, right?

And, of course, there is no evidence to support the idea that the reaction in one area (S Africa e.g.) is necessarily going to occur everywhere else. That assumption is a cognitive bias at work.

Spirit of Vatican II

http://www.theage.com.au/national/mass-discontent-20110315-1bvtb.html

Cognitive bias, Percy? Have you actually READ the new translations?

What is all this stuff about "votes"? In fact the only people who had a vote, according to Vatican II, were the bishops, and they failed to demand the use of it, instead kowtowing to the Vatican bullies.

You seem to be in the same inconsistency as "me" -- calling for the laity to take the law into their own hands while pouncing on the clergy who do the same. I have no doubt that many clergy and laity will instinctively practice passive resistance to an unprayable translation; and I would say they are morally justified in doing so, or indeed morally obliged to do so.

Percy

No, I am merely calling you out on your convenient, self-serving clericalist approach here. It is better for clergy who want to resist to get at least the moral authority of their flock at large before doing so. Failing to do so because it's difficult, or no more canonical than what you propose, simply reveals how complex the problem of clericalism is. I've seen too much of it, and am sick of it. It's especially galling when it's cloaked in erstwhile progressive concerns (because the clericalism is all the harder to see - you appear to be utterly blind to yours here). Since I am a progressive, I hate to see our agenda misused in that way.

me

Spirit,

You wrote, "But you cannot have it both ways. You cannot claim for the laity the right to reject a liturgy they find unprayable while denying any such rigth to priests."

I am not trying to have it both ways. My ecclesiology would deny to the priest the right to deny the laity. I am consistant. Ministerial priests are here to serve laity.

Spirit of Vatican II

"me", you talk about priests denying the rights of the laity; but it is not priests who do so; progressive priests seek to involve the laity maximally in the liturgy; but all priests and all laity are forbidden to alter the liturgy or not to perform it exactly as prescribed; thus the implementation of the new translations does not envisage any consultation of priests or laity or any consideration of feedback from either group.

Percy, you say that clergy who want to resist should get at least the moral authority of their flock at large before doing so. This is a valid point -- but would it not be equally valid to say that clergy who want to conform should also get the moral authority of their flock? And the latter, as you know, is a revolutionary proposal that could get priests suspended.

me

Spirit,

I realize that the Vatican dictates that all priests and all laity are forbidden to alter the liturgy. But the Vatican also demands that all ministerial priests perform the approved liturgy. Now clearly you are suggesting that this be disobeyed so I am not sure why you are now appealing to Vatican dictates. I recognize that the Vatican is denying this right to the laity.

What I am contesting, is "your" denial of the right to the laity to affirm or deny the liturgy. The Vatican is at least consistant on this point, you are not.

Percy

Spirit

I wouldn't wait for the one to do the other, much as I would heartily welcome both. The priest that simply does nothing by unilateral inaction has neither book authority nor moral authority. The path you suggest is the most self-serving of the three paths, and the least defensible.

Spirit of Vatican II

If many priests believe that the new translation is actually unprayable and a travesty of the liturgy, surely they are morally obliged to do nothing to promote it? This does not imply any "denial of the right to the laity to affirm or deny the liturgy" -- in fact it responds to the outcry among laity who are aware of how very, very bad the new translations are. For proof of the latter just study Msgr Ryan's site; there you will find the moral authority for the policy I advocate.

Spirit of Vatican II

On the Irish priests' website: "If all the priests who are unhappy about the introduction of the new translation were, after consulting with their parishioners, to refuse to implement it, church authorities could do little or nothing about it. They would be powerless. There certainly could be no question of forcing all those priests to opt out of public ministry on this issue.

"It is a fact that many priests have deep reservations about the new translations. Many feel that they, “in conscience”, could not introduce them. The sad fact is that the church leadership in Ireland does not seem to be listening to their priests nor to their lay people."

Percy

Spirit

22,000 signatures is not even a wisp of a spit in the bucket. Basically, that meant about less than 1 person per parish in my diocese. The traddies have more.

No, the moral authority needs to be sought personally and from your own flock. There is NO proxy for this; your path, again, is revealed as self-serving rationalization. It's clericalism, pure and simple, using the flock as a pretext. You should call yourself Spirit of Vatican I.

me

Spirit,

Percy's point, one I too have made here before, is quite right. 22,000 is nothing. In some of the larger dioceses in the U.S. that would only constitute one parish or two parishes.

I have to say that your argument is the same as the Vatican's. You do not feel obliged to say it, they feel obliged to say it. Either way, by your own standards, this should be viewed as an imposition on the laity.

So the moral authority for your denial to the laity is 22,000 signatures in the whole world. So if the trads come up with more will you then say it?

Spirit of Vatican II

I have also said that 22000 is nothing. I should have clarified that I refer to the COMMENTS of the highly qualified laity posted by Msgr Ryan -- for which you will find NO equivalent on the other side of the debate. "The traddies have more" is not correct -- Fr Zuhlsdorf got 6000 signatories; but neither he nor his combox correspondents have anything really good to say about the new translation -- or if they have, please quote it.


Either way this is an imposition on the laity, claims "me" -- in a sense yes. But note that the laity do not feel the current translation to be an imposition, so by refusing to countenance an imposition that goes against Vatican II and that seriously damages the liturgy the priest is not imposing anything in practice. I agree with Fr Alwill that the laity should be consulted on the problem. I suggest that the text of the Eucharistic Prayers be distributed for the laity to give their feedback. I don't know why Percy has got it into his head that I am against this.

evagrius

I think the best response is silence, silence on the part of the laity attending the Liturgy.

After all, I remember the Latin Mass was quite silent. Few responded in Latin, most sat there praying, daydreaming, etc;

Percy

Because you have repeatedly prioritized Do Nothings as the best response, and defended against consulting the laity as something that will put priests at risk, et cet.

Stop with the do nothing. Emphasize consultation with the entire flock, and consultation that involves a serious risk of having to honor a consensus that might not be what you believe. When you prioritize that, then your position will be more credible. Right now, it reads like: "I don't want to do this, and will take any path necessary to get what I want, but in theory I like the idea of consultation with the laity, so long as they ultimately agree with me (which I am sure they will anyway, so I don't really need to consult with them, which is too difficult and risky..." I am not the only one reading you that way, so look in the mirror and see how your message is being heard.)

Spirit of Vatican II

Great idea, Evagrius -- that would be the clearest statement the faithful could make; and it really would be an exquisite enactment of wu wei (do nothing) -- which Daoists would probably see as the most powerful form of "doing."

To return to Claire's stunning argument: the parallels with the sex abuse scandal are striking, but with these differences:

the crime is committed by the bishops on the terrain of their foremost responsibility and assumed expertise; there are no confusing extraneous factors;

priests and laity are asked to go along with the crime in the name of hierarchical submission; this chain of command has broken down in the sex abuse scandal, since the laity woke up to the evil of what was happening; in the present case the line of submission seems to be holding and the bishops foolishly believe that this is shoring up their authority.

For evidence of the crime, see http://www.praytellblog.com/index.php/2010/11/06/translation-directory-watch-this-space

Spirit of Vatican II

Archbishop of Canberra, Mark Coleridge, remarkably concedes that the call for a boycott could be a majority view: “The archbishop said his guess was a call for a boycott was “a minority view though neither I nor anyone else could be certain of this or the opposite view. It depends in large part upon whose voices you hear.”

However, he resorts to a shabby talking point when he suggests that critics of the new translation have a hidden agenda: “There is a small element of implacability, but for the implacable the texts tend to be a lightning-rod for a range of other issues. The source of their unhappiness lies elsewhere.”

The fact is that the unhappiness with the new texts is found right across the spectrum of Catholic opinion and that the source of that unhapppiness lies in the texts themselves (and secondarily in the process that produced them). If bishops have such a hard time recognizing this, the chances for reasonable discussion are very low.

David Walker

Spirit of Vatican II said:

''Fr Zuhlsdorf got 6000 signatories; but neither he nor his combox correspondents have anything really good to say about the new translation -- or if they have, please quote it.''

I just read some comments. they are positive. My own opinion is positive of the new translation.

Just a couple of comments on his latest post:

''I am on pins and needles waiting for Advent. So when do we get a new translation for the Liturgy of Hours??''

''No way. We have been hearing a jingle, a bland platitude, the whole time, and this beautiful theological concept is hidden underneath it?

I can’t wait for the new translations.''

The majority of the readers of Fr. Z are excited about the new translation. Of course there are some who want to discard the new Mass and use the EF From. That is their opinion and I can certainly understand why they would think that.

Anyway, all this bickering is tired and worn out. Let's be Church together, with the new translation.

Spirit of Vatican II

David Walker, the point is that they have nothing good to say about the new translation on the basis of having read it. The reactions you quote are typical -- excitement at the new translation on the false premise that it cannot be worse than the present one or on the supposition that it will be a come-uppance for trendy liberals. You say that bickering (including intelligent criticism from experts in every field involved) is tired and worn out -- but what we have seen so far is only the first droplets of a downpour. Consider also the possibility that the new translation is so bad that it will impede people's ability to be church together... Indeed it is a crime against the church.

Spirit of Vatican II

I see that Fr Zuhlsdorf says he will support a priest who boycotts the new translation provided he says Mass in Latin instead: certainly I would be happy to do so, but the faithful might not want that. Also the excited comments David Walker quotes are in reference to the sawdust preces of the 1973 translation, which have no defenders. We should have had the beautiful 1998 translation of these prayers and our liturgical life has greatly suffered from their suppression. http://wdtprs.com/blog/2011/03/reason-64675-for-the-new-corrected-translation/

Tancred

Since when does it matter what the faithful want? We weren't consulted about Vatican II, and we weren't consulted about the liturgical tinkering dating back even into the 19th Century either.

Many of us weren't consulted when similar changes occurred in England as a result of the Protestant Revolt, either. It was imposed upon us, in many cases against our will, by men with an agenda that meant to attack our Faith in the Mass, the Priesthood and the entirety of the Catholic Faith itself.

Spirit of Vatican II

Newman urged "consultation of the faithful in matters of doctrine" though he softened this by claiming to use consult in an old-fashioned sense, as in consulting leaves on a stream to determine its course. It is true that even Vatican II did not make a proper effort to consult the laity in either sense and that since Vatican II such an idea is not even on the radar screen of bishops. Your remarks on the English Reformation miss three things: that in the end it issued in the Church of England, a quite successful synthesis of Protestant insight and Catholic tradition; and that brutality and non-consultation of the laity were equally characteristic of the Counter-Reformation reaction; that since the 16th century the laity have had a very big say in Protestant churches, though almost none in ours. Perhaps the dreadful new translations, along with the abuse scandals, will prompt the laity to demand a greater voice in church affairs.

shane

Most lay people would not *want* a say in Church governance. In Irish elections only about half the electorate bother to cast a vote - and most people (unfortunately) would see the state as more significant in their daily life than the Church. If you gave Irish lay people the right to, say, elect their own bishops, only about 5% would even bother. Episcopal candidates would be elected by the most enthusiastic laity and would be highly unrepresentative. Indeed they might even be more conservative than the bishops we have now; it's well known that the most active lay Catholics are way more conservative than the Irish Church Establishment.

Spirit of Vatican II

Shane, I agree. But the example of the other churches shows that an empowered laity discover a joy in service that makes them love "their" church in a way that Catholics just now seem not to.

I think your statistics on Irish voting should be checked. Though it is true there is a widespread lack of faith in the political system. Irish citizens were intensely interested in politics in the 1950s and 1960s -- and still may be more interested than most countries. Of course the heyday was when Ireland was a rural society and politics was one of the few outlets for social energy. Since politics declined into a morass of financial speculation, tribunals, litigation etc., they have predictably lost interest.

Louis E.

A religion that is not consistent reveals itself as fraudulent.To the extent that the Second Vatican Council openly contradicted what went before (which is not nearly as wide as the extent to which those who worship its "spirit" claim it did) it can not be defended as authentically Roman Catholic,and the authority of the hierarchy to repair the damage that it caused should not be disputed.

I myself am neither religious nor atheist,but I am keenly aware that a faith not held out as an inalterable template instead of a fungible body of opinion is nonsense.Eternal truth is in no way subject to the wishes of man.

Spirit of Vatican II

Religions do try to be consistent, but you know that over a stretch of 3000 years it is hard to keep it up. Feuerbach, who was trained as a theologian, has a compilation of Christian contradictions long before Vatican II. The trouble is that religious faith is ALWAYS formulated by human beings at a given time and place, within the limits of a given cultural horizon. If it is any consolation to you, science and philosophy are just as full of inconsistences and contradictions, measured over time, as religions are.

shane

Spirit have you examined the merits of the 1966 Missal? I recently sent a scan of this to a friend; would you like me to email you a copy?

Spirit of Vatican II

shane by all means send me a copy. But by the 1966 Missal you must mean an English translation of the Latin Mass (the one restored in the EF).

Spirit of Vatican II

address josephsoleary@hotmail.com

Jean-Paul

It just shows that professional translators are required for this type of job as they can handle all the subtlety that you find in the bible. One of the best translators of all time, Eugene Nida, wrote a great book about Bible translation (Meaning across cultures). I definitely recommend it ;)

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