US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Prep for the new Roman Missal: Can we be honest?

By Bryan Cones | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

An interesting anonymous comment from my request for info on how parishes are preparing for the new translations:

"I can't use my name because I work for a parish in a midwestern diocese. I recently listened to our diocesan worship director explain the reasons for the new translation. She faithfully--and enthusiastically--repeated all of the talking points on the bishops' website, but I couldn't help thinking that more than a few people in the room must have realized that none of it made sense. I felt sorry for her--and for us. I haven't heard a really convincing reason for the Vatican rules which produced this translation. The official explanations are like happy talk. You have to wonder how supposedly intelligent people can make these claims with a straight face.

"Of course some people who take refuge in the supposed serenity of the past will be pleased, but I think many Catholics will sense that something is very wrong with the new translation. The danger is that they will eventually follow their children out the door. You don't have to be a conspiracy nut to wonder if that wasn't the point all along."

Diana Macalintal, a diocesan director of liturgy and contributor to the PrayTell blog, had a thoughtful post partially in response to my congrats for Father Anthony Ruff for withdrawing from speaking engagements regarding the new translations. She pointed out her obligation as a church minister and employee to "drink the Kool Aid" (as I put it, perhaps unkindly) and make the best of a bad situation. Macalintal and many like her make the church go round, and as an employee of a Catholic organization myself, I know the challenge of balancing duty to employer and the dictates of my conscience.

At the the same time, I still feel the people of God deserve some unvarnished opinion about these translations and the process (and ecclesiology) that produced them. As the comment above indicates, people at the parish level are not stupid; they know what's going on, and those of us "in the know" are bound by our baptism to be honest with one another and with them. That may mean painful conversations even with our bishops--who should be the ones leading the resistance to these texts. It may also mean openly disagreeing with friends, mentors, and colleagues, as I have found myself in response to my December column on the new missal

Anthony Ruff recently posted some anonymous quotes from folks charged with the implementation of these texts reflecting profound misgivings--all off the record. What a tragedy that we live in a church that can't bear to have the considered opinions of its experts and pastors express their concerns in charity, both about the translations themselves and the process that led to their creation.