The blog Mere Comments of Touchstone fisks Bishop Trautman’s remarks to the recent meeting of the "Catholic Academy of Liturgy", which met recently in Toronto. However, since to my knowledge no one yet has the full text of His Excellency’s speech, we are working only from reports and from the press release of that meeting.
Fr. Keith Pecklers, SJ, a … well-known… liturgist, and a member of the executive committee of the abovementioned CAL was kind enough to send me their press release and I am grateful for his swift response to my request.
Here it is with my emphasis and my comments:
CATHOLIC CHURCH – LITURGY
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The Catholic Academy of Liturgy met on January 4, 2007 in Toronto, Canada, prior to the annual meeting of the North American Academy of Liturgy. The keynote speaker was Bishop Donald Trautman of Erie, Pennsylvania and chair of the Bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). In his address entitled “When Should Liturgists Be Prophetic?” [I guess calling something "prophetic" gives you carte blanche to do anything you please.] Trautman raised concerns about current directions in the revision now underway of the English edition of the Roman Missal being prepared by the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL). The first edition in English of the Roman Missal was issued in 1973. Drawing on biblical scholarship, historical theology, and his many years of pastoral experience as a bishop, he contended that the new translations do not adequately meet the liturgical needs of the average Catholic and expressed fears that the significant changes in the texts no longer reflect understandable English usage. [And are the lame-duck versions now in use understandable as "Catholic" prayers?] Trautman argued that the proposed changes of the people’s parts during the Mass will confuse the faithful [What a bunch of dopes you are.] and predicted that the new texts will contribute to a greater number of departures from the Catholic Church. [Right… some priests and bishops have been hammering the faithful in the pews with theological and moral sticks and stones for decades and yet they are still coming to church and putting money in the basket, and now more accurate words are going to hurt you.]
The Bishop cited various problematic texts, criticizing their awkward structure and arcane vocabulary that would be very difficult for the priest to pray aloud and for the people to follow. [Let’s not ask anyone to think about the words.] Just as problematic for Trautman was the recent decision to change the words of consecration that refer to Christ’s blood being shed “for all” to “for many.” That change could be easily misinterpreted as denying the faith of the Roman Catholic Church that Christ died for all people. [What about the Ukranian Catholics and the Maronites and all the other Catholics beside the Romans? They seem to be able to grasp "for many" without leaving unity with Rome.]
Bishop Trautman challenged Catholic liturgical scholars of North America to assist the bishops in promoting a liturgy that is accessible and pastorally aware. [Can a liturgy be "aware"? Scary.] He urged them, in a spirit of respect and love for the Church, to be courageous in questioning [dissenting from…] those developments that would render the liturgy incomprehensible and betray the intention of the Second Vatican Council (1962-65). [Is this where we mention that the Council wanted LATIN to be retained as the language of the liturgy?]
The Catholic Academy of Liturgy’s Executive Committee is composed of three members. Rev. John F. Baldovin, S.J. of the Weston Jesuit School of Theology, Cambridge, Mass. finished his three-year term and the Rev. Keith F. Pecklers, S.J. of the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome, was elected to succeed him. The other two members are Sr. Kathleen Harmon, S.N.D. de N. of the Institute for Liturgical Ministry, Dayton, Ohio, and Sr. Mary Alice Piil, C.S.J., Director of Faith Formation for the Diocese of Rockville Center, New York and the Committee’s lead convener. The Catholic Academy of Liturgy will hold it’s next meeting in January, 2008 in Savannah, Georgia.
"But Father! But Father!", some of you are surely asserting as you read, "What is going on? Why are they trying to do away with the improvements that are being made to the translations?"
I think the answer to that lies in two main ideas.
First, there is a type of cleric and/or liturgical expert out there who, simply put, thinks you are stupid.
Second, there is a sort of cleric and/or liturgical expert out there who, simply put, doesn’t believe what the prayers really say.
To give everyone there due, let us admit that some people will have a hard time understanding the new translations. Ok. Why is it so important that everyone understand with immediacy everything without having to work at it? Without having to seek and listen to explanations? Why should Holy Mass be stripped of its mysterious character? The content of the prayers is not just thoughts that can be expressed in words or formulae. The true inner content of the Church’s liturgical prayer is a Divine Person with whom we have a relationship of love. More is understood by loving faith than in mere apprehension of the words and syntax alone. There are times when we must believe so that we can understand the interior vistas of a prayer.
We need the Content of our prayers. Life is hard enough without the sustenance to be gained from the wonderful prayers of Holy Mass. The Eucharistic, It’s celebration and the Sacrament, is the source and summit of Catholic Christian life. Moreover, how we prayer has a reciprocal relationship with what we believe. So, how we pray as a Church affects how we live. I want what the Church has decided I am to have. That is my patrimony, my right and my life’s blood. When someone suggests you people (and I) are too stupid to understand the language of a prayer, my inner Zorro escapes.
Let’s turn this on its head.
What would the reaction be, I wonder, from priests and bishops and liturgists if people far and wide went public in speeches and articles about how their priests were too stupid to explain the prayers, they were incompetent teachers, that they were using little goo-goo words in homilies and sticking to the lowest common liturgical denominator because they themselves aren’t capable of rising to the challenge they were ordained for. D’ya ‘spose that might raise the ire of a few clerics? What would they do if, perhaps, people said these clerics of ours are showing themselves to be incompetent with the money we give them. We had better give them less and less because they just don’t have what it takes to use it wisely.
This is precisely what is being suggested when the dumbed-down lame-duck supernannuated ICEL versions are defended in full view of translations that are manifestly more accurate. They are saying that people are too dumb to grasp what Mother Church is praying.
And then they ask you for money.