The press release with Bp. Trautman’s comments

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:



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.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Fr. Z: Is it not true that this train has already left the station? In which case, what Bishop Trautman thinks about Liturgiam authenticam makes little practical difference? If so, what would be his motivation for a speech like this? Just to prove how wrong he was all along? But we all know this already, requires no proof. Just an attack of guilt and self-loathing?

    PS: “Free the old Mass!” is the best anti-spam word yet. Makes me wonder if you can set it up so a person’s IP number determines which anti-spam word they get. If so, may I recommend that our Holy Father be given “Free the old Mass!” each and every time he wants to post a comment.

  2. John Polhamus says:

    Are we to admit then that those who cannot understand the ARCANE difference between MANY and ALL, that CONSUBSTANTIAL means “of one substance” and that INCARNATE means “became flesh” are such retardates that they can’t be TAUGHT? God FORBID that the Bishops should presume in their habitually patronizing way that the laity can read, hear, and comprehend. That is NO argument. And as to the response “AND WITH THY SPIRIT” ask yourself how many people still use the word “THY” in reciting the Hail Mary: Almost ALL of them. Fruit of “your” womb just doesn’t roll off the tongue, or out of the general conciousness of the faithful. Give us some credit, Fathers, Try TEACHING us instead of assuming that we’re going to trip over the first dirt clod out of the starting gate. I repeat, that is NO legitimate argument. The only reason not to correct it is to prop up an old program, which never worked.

    And still the Motu Proprio languishes?

  3. John Polhamus says:

    “To give everyone their due, let us admit that some people will have a hard time understanding the new translations.”
    This is what my previous post was in response to, don’t think I disagreed with any of the rest of it.

    As to this part, “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?”:
    Allow me to assert that if Shakespeare had been as comprehensible on first hearing as the New Mass, he would have been forgotten before the end of the third act of each play. Wherein lies his depth? In OBSCURITY. His literary bones have meat on them yet, while this emaciated mass rattles like a skeleton in a high wind. We’re not stupid, we know meat when we feel it, hear it, see it, or read it. You may not know just what brand of cattle it came from, but you know it satisfies your hunger.

    As for me, I was particularly impressed with the “Veronese Sacramentary” security tag!

  4. Jim McMurrry says:

    Good heavens! It thought the infamous rushed 20 minute Latin Mass, that no one understood, was to be replaced with the Novus Ordo to improve the sacral character of the Mass and to improve understanding. I know I have read that more than once. I wonder what “pastoral” means here.
    I came from an Anglican service with my wife and we have attended a Latin Mass for a year. My Latin is awfully rusty from inadequate effort on my part some 50 years ago. But my missal handles that fine and I am relearning a lot of Latin on the easy payment plan. I simply attend each Sunday and holy day of obligation and it seeps into my brain. Amazing how that works.

    I have heard that Bishop Trautman is a brilliant man. I have read that more than once also. The comments however hint that someone with a big foot (i.e., maybe the Pope) has stepped on His Eminence’s sore toe. Shifting metaphors, I am reminded of the kid who tries to squirm out of an error to avoid the spanking. The kid always tries to change the viewpoint and make it appear that nothing was done wrong, “It was only a mis-perception.”

    I went to Mass thinking that it was primarily about worshipping God. Apparently there is something pastoral about it. Perhaps that pastoral feeling is the same as that great feeling that comes over me each time I attend the Latin Mass. Somewhere during that Mass, I get this strange sense of awe and humility and joy, all rolled into one. It varies from week to week which particular part of the Mass triggers that funny feeling, but I keep going back.
    My wife insists she will never go to a Novus Ordo Mass again. I doubt that is 100% true, but I would bet she will stick pretty close to it.

    Indult now!!

  5. Ben of the Bayou says:

    Father Z,

    I am really glad that you report these things, but I am really twisted into knots over them. I become so frustrated and angry with these prelates who should be men of the Church par excellence and yet only show themselves to be obstinate traitors to the sacredness of a tradition that existed long before they were even conceived and (God willing)long after they are gone.

    Why, oh why, Father, should the faithful suffer at the hands of such men with absolutely no response from any of his brother bishops in the US nor any response from the CDS or the Pope?!? It’s not like this was a private comment or really one said with any modicum of interpretation needed. HE WANTS CHRIST’S CHURCH TO BE REMADE IN HIS OWN IMAGE, with the facile and trite excuse that it is more “pasotoral” this way. I am sick and tired of hearing that word hijacked and perverted on the tounges of men and women who are either complete sots or are twisted by demonic forces.

    “Deus in adiutorium nostrum intende. Domine ad adiuvandum nos festina.”

  6. Dan Hunter says:

    Father Zuhlsdorf,Are we not created in God’s image and likeness?
    And is not God omniscient,pure wisdom and intelligence?
    In this light why wouldn’t Bishop Trautman give Catholics their due when it comes to understanding the correct liturgical terms.
    I’d betcha dollars to doughnuts that when The Almighty created us H gave us some ability to think correctly.
    On a seperate note,does all this posturing by Bishop Trautman only add up to him venting.Or does he have some influence over having the Holy Father’s liturgical corrections being implemented.
    Thank you and God bless you.

  7. Tim says:

    What are the faithful sheep to do when their would-be shepherds become the wolves? How long are the faithful to suffer at the hands of such tyrants? To answer my own question: as long as God permits. Why does the Holy Father permit these Bishops to go unchecked? They have run roughshod over the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, caused the exodus of millions of faithful, and yet collegiality must rule the day? Sorry, rant off.

  8. ThomasMore1535 says:

    In an attempt to provide a positive side of this Bishop’s disobedience to the Holy Father, I wish to share the followign story.

    I live in the Archdiocese of St. Louis, which is blessed to be a center of Catholic orthodoxy.

    Anyway, I had an opportunity to discuss Bishop Trautman’s condescending arguments with someone who carries a LOT of clout in the Archdiocese, and this individual assured me that following the passage of the translation last summer, Bishop Trautman has been completely discredited. The speech given by the Bishop of Leeds, England, right before the vote, explaining why a new translation was needed, was apparantly a particular nail in his coffin. From what I have gathered, he has become a laughingstock. I pray that this is true.

  9. Kevin says:

    Thank you, Fr. Z. I’m glad to read this post. I don’t think I’ll really mind, as long as I am able to follow through every Mass I attend in my Latin Missal.


  10. I agree with you, Father Z.

    My only addition would be to say that some priests don’t consider the significance of the prayers being thin and dry; they measure them in a minimal way — i.e., “what’s wrong with the idea in that prayer? It’s true…” After all, priests have had lots of theological formation, and so they “supply” what’s lacking in the prayers (as do many of the faithful); so I think many priests don’t see why it matters.

    I think it does matter; I am very, very eager for the new translation, as well as for any progress that can be made in re-integrating Latin into the prayer and worship of the main body of Catholics.

  11. Kevin Jones says:

    “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?”

    It occurs to me that to a non-Christian, and even to a longtime Christian, “sin”, “resurrection,” “grace”, and “salvation” can be foreign words. Few liturgists went so far as to render these words understandable to the Sesame Street viewer.

    Instant, total comprehension seems to be a side-effect of scientism: the hatred of mystery often accompanies reductionist impulses.

    (Lewis & Short is my security phrase? Love it!)

  12. Jim O'Leary says:

    When you pour over something, you ruin the morning paper, whether it is syrup or milk or The New York Times or First Things. When you pore over something, you are scratching your head, as I am, wondering why all this waste of talk and time while the world is dying from war, greed, ignorance and concern about personal salvation. Aren’t we supposed to be Catholics? (In case you don’t understand what I am saying, Amy quotes Father as pouring over the translation and as for that, who gives a damn.

  13. Jack says:

    Father Z,
    Thanks for what you do!
    As a second grader I was memorizing the Latin responses of the old Mass and by the fifth grade could translate and understand them–necessary requirements for an altar server.
    Most of my schoolmates were from blue-collar families–blue! However, I guess the clerics considered us too stupid to understand the Latin Rite. Yet, our parents could at least give a rough translation of the ordinary of the Mass. Now the Bishops and liturgists are worried that we poor slobs will not understand the new, more literal translations.
    So, to his Excellency Bishop Trautman–excuse me while I bind the wounds on my dragging knuckles.

  14. Guy Power says:

    Fr. Z

    I had to play with the Zorro image and adjust it a bit to fit you.

    Feel free to use it if you like it.

    (Do I stand after writing “Oremus”?)

  15. RC says:

    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.

    Alas, who needs speeches and articles to make this point? All one needs to do is witness a Mass.

  16. dcs says:

    why all this waste of talk and time while the world is dying from war, greed, ignorance and concern about personal salvation. Aren’t we supposed to be Catholics?

    Simply, because listening to ICELized, Novusordoized prayers makes us angry. And it’s hard to be a good Catholic when one is angry all the time.

  17. Lawrence says:

    And I would suggest, in echo of dcs, that the ICELized, Novusordoized prayers to not call us to anything
    sacrificial. They keep us settled and unchallenged, comfortable. They do not reveal to us the God whose
    love is poured out on the Cross, thus inspiring and strengthening us to see the world in the same way –
    in need of love. Instead…everything’s…okay.

  18. John Polhamus says:

    Jim, alot of us give a great big hirsute damn about it. (Hirsute means hairy, just wanted you to know that I knew what it meant, even if I HAD mispelled it.) Maybe you might have figured it out by now, but nitpicking about doctrine and its liturgical embodiment isn’t going to go away, no matter how much the Vat II’ers would like it to. Our church and its beliefs are, unfortunately for them, on record through the ages. So much so that no matter how much it might like to conveniently adjust and attenuate itself to the “spirit of the age” which, incidentally, has little or nothing to do with the Holy Spirit, even in the best of times, that it can’t nor should it. Sorry, but that’s how it is, get used to it.

    And being a Catholic is not dependant on social sympathy, you know that. If you don’t you should. Rather it is the other way around. Social sympathy depends from being a Roman Catholic. Our doctrine instructs our social view, not the other way around. That’s where the rule of Charity comes from, the UN didn’t invent it. There is plenty of feeding of the bodies going on. So much so that now we need to feed the soul first, otherwise the body may live but the spirit is dormant or worse within it.

  19. John Polhamus says:

    Feel free to remove my response to Jim, Father. His goat got my lamb there.


  20. Hey, now THAT graphic is cool!

  21. Well, I can hardly top Guy’s contribution – the prospective avatar to end all avatars – but perhaps I can try to give Jim’s question the serious answer it deserves. Basically, he’s asking what difference the liturgy makes. No matter what the liturgy, can’t we just be good little Catholics anyway; can’t we just all love each other? [To use ICEL’s favorite all-purpose English word “love” (luv), which gets “poured” into every ICEL prayer, whatever the original said.]

    One answer is that, as Vatican II famously said, the liturgy is the “source and summit” of our faith as Catholics. So it makes sense, as Cardinal Ratzinger has said, to conclude that the reason for the present crisis in the Church is the disintegration of the liturgy since Vatican II. Indeed, our true Christian love for one another as Catholics should flow forth from our mutually active participation in right liturgy, without which we can’t even love one another as we should. This is one reason for the social problems that concern Jim.

    So Thanks, Jim, for reminding us what the real problem is: The right stuff (preferable flammable) wasn’t poured over ICEL’s pseudo-translation in 1973 when it made its first ugly appearance.

  22. Woody Jones says:

    Fr. Z:

    I hear “subito”, so….when?

    Keep up the good work and all the best.


  23. Brian Anderson says:

    Encouraging others to dissent!! What a bishop.
    Shame Shame

  24. Father Z,

    Under the circumstances, let me submit this question to you rather than to His Excellency.

    Dubium: Whether it is acceptable, in preparing a Latin-English leaflet for a parish Latin Novus Ordo Mass, to include your literal WDTPRS translations for the people to read (ad usum privatum) as they hear the propers in Latin.

  25. Gary says:

    “He contended that the new translations do not adequately meet the liturgical needs of the average Catholic”… So, he’d like to change Christ’s words from “Be perfect like your Father is perfect” to “Be average, like your Father is [?]”??? Instead of aiming for beauty, reverence, meaning, transcendence, we get what from our bishops and priests??

    This is the problem: we have a bunch of many bishops who sincerely believe we need to aim low. Query why? Is it their own difficulties with the faith, is it Ecumenism, because we don’t want to be “too Catholic” What is it?

    The miracle is that people still go to Mass at all. And they do. In droves, looking to slake their thirst.

    People are saying the liberalisation of the Old Rite won’t change that much. I think our bishops know it will and, they are scared.
    Why are they scared, I’m not sure, but they are Scared. Scared not Sacred.

  26. Brian says:

    Not for nothing, but outside of the diocese of Eirie, who cares what Trautmann thinks. His generation of liturgists are fading. Trautmann’s speech reminds me of a story I once heard, where a major philosopher of the early 20th century, late in his career, wondered “Were did all the logical positivists go?” The answer, in a manner of speaking was supplied by A.J. Ayer, when asked why he, and most philosophers, gave up on the principle of verification, a core doctrine of logical positivism: “The major reason” to paraphrase Ayer, “is that it was wrong” Once philosophers came to see the fundamental untenability of logical positivism, they moved on to other things, excepting a few hold-outs who miss the boat but had tenure. Trautmann et al are simply the liturgical and ecclesial equivalents of this.

    However, one difference between Trautmann et al and the early 20th century logical postivists is their philosophy. The commitment to logic undermined logical positivism, but the liturgical school that dominated the USSCB and elsewhere for so much recent history is largely a mixture of emotivism and the baby-food version of phenomenology and Levinas. Interestingly, just as there is a movement in the church to criticize liturgical emotivism and restore accuracy and reverence, in continental philosophy, a critique of the Levinasian emphasis on alterity and a return to ‘metaphysics’ is a big thing now, as in the work of Alain Badiou and Zizek.

    Sorry for the long winded, and rather meandering post

  27. RBrown says:

    Trautman) contended that the new translations do not adequately meet the liturgical needs of the average Catholic and expressed fears

    The continuing drop in the number of priests ordained for Erie (1980–278; 1990–241, when Trautman took over; 2004–213) indicates that Trautman himself is not meeting the liturgical needs of the average Catholic.

    But his remarks are not surprising. It has been my experience that priests of his generation (he was ordained in 62) often have a tough time getting a handle on these times. They received a highly structured, by-the-numbers formation based on obedience. But then the bottom dropped out of the Church’s discipline, and they tried to adopt liberalism–scrupulously so.

    NB: In the early 60’s the most conservative Catholicism was to be found in Holland. By the mid 70’s it had become the most liberal.

  28. Dubium: Whether it is acceptable, in preparing a Latin-English leaflet for a parish Latin Novus Ordo Mass, to include your literal WDTPRS translations for the people to read (ad usum privatum) as they hear the propers in Latin.

    There’s a pertinent point here. When the Mass (be it old or new) is celebrated in Latin, the people in the pews can use any English translation they wish. They can even use an accurate and faithful translation. (Imagine that, you who’ve seen nothing but ICEL translations approved by our appointed shepherds and sworn guardians of faith and liturgy.)

    Thus, in the traditional Latin-English missals, one generally sees good English translations. With the Latin Novus Ordo, in addition to using Father Z’s literal translations (for instance) for the propers, you can place in the pews a Latin-English NO booklet called The Mass of Vatican II that’s available from one of Fr. Fessio’s organizations. Its excellent English translation of the Ordinary of the Mass is the one from CREDO, “an organization of priests dedicated to promoting an accurate, faithful, and beautiful translation of liturgical texts”. (Ironically, the actual “Mass of Vatican II” was the so-called Tridentine Mass, which was celebrated first thing each morning the Council met in St. Peter’s Basilica.)

  29. Working in a parish, I am sick of having to buy all these “new” liturgical books. I was shocked when I just read in the Adoremus bulletin that they are reviewing the current translation of the lectionary. I am happy that they might fix the horrid translation we currently have, but from a parish perspective, we already have enough fiancial necessities without having to buy four gigantic (because they are terribly formatted to take up as many pages as possible).
    Why can’t the Vatican see that bishop conferences (at least in North America) are not competent in getting out an accurate and beautiful translation.
    As a reader at Mass it is very difficult to read some of the current lectionary. It also doesn’t help that I can almost daily pick out something from the readings that is problematic.
    I could probably rant all day, but again, I have to ask why this is being allowed to go on when there are obviously orthodox scholars who can translate the texts correctly. The current “system” just isn’t working.
    [steps off of soapbox]

  30. I also wonder if there is any way for priests to petition Rome for permission to use the Catholic RSV lectionary?
    Any thoughts on the probability of that, Father?

  31. I also wonder if there is any way for priests to petition Rome for permission to use the Catholic RSV lectionary?

    In praying the traditional divine office, I’m currently trying substitution of the psalms from the beautiful new
    Ignatius Press RSV New Testament and Psalms. (One of the benefits of my cherished lay status is that no approval from anyone is required to do something that seems good.)

    In preparing a Latin-English leaflet of readings and propers for a recent Latin Novus Ordo Mass, I toyed with the idea of including the RSV 2/e readings and gospel, but thought it would be jarring for people to look at an excellent translation while listening to the readings from the approved lectionary, whose principal virtue (that I’m aware of) consists in the big royalties it allegedly earns for the USCCB from U.S. Catholic parishes required to buy its expensive multiple volumes.

  32. Ben Trovato says:

    One of the paradoxes of the current approach to liturgy is that while any fool can understand every word, very few now understand what is going on at Mass.

    Consider too the example of Our Lord: He was happy to tell people things they did not immediately understand, in the knowledge that the Holy Spirit would enlighten them at the right time: think how often we read in the Gospels that people – including the Apostles – did not understand Him. I do not think it was because He was a poor communicator!

    With regard to John Polhamus’ comment re Shakespeare, there was a very funny article printed in Christian Order some years ago based on the idea of ICEL rendering Shakespeare comprehensible…

  33. Paul in Bedfordshire (UK) says:

    Having found this site and becoming increasingly impatient for both the new translation and the indult I am considering a plot.

    You know those latin english missals you used to get with the Tridentine mass, well I am toying with the idea of printing out a novus-ordo to english missal on my PC ie (novus ordo on one side and English on the other


    Lord I am not worthy Lord I am not worthy
    to receive you, that thou shouldst enter under my roof,
    but only say the word and say but the word and
    I shall be healed my soul shalt be healed

    My PC does A5 booklet prints so it could be quite small and discrete, wonder how long it would be before someone noticed?

  34. Paul in Bedfordshire: Noticed what?

    Sorry… that was a little joke.

    I think some people would want one also. I think a lot of people would want one.

  35. Paul,

    The High Mass brochure that’s available for congregational use at the Sunday solemn Latin Novus Ordo at the Birmingham Oratory contains a very beautiful English translation that was done by the Association for Latin Liturgy.

    I hope that, when all’s been said and done (by our appointed shepherds and sworn guardians of faith and liturgy), the new official translation of the Novus Ordo will be as accurate and beautiful as these various unofficial translations that have been available for some time.

  36. Paul,

    Those first two links above don’t seem to work. (I’d give several gin and tonics for a preview facility here.) To get the brochure, you can go to and make your way through The Parish to News & Events, where you’ll see a link to it.

  37. Paul in Bedfordshire (UK) says:

    Thanks Fr and Henry,

    Henry – the link is now working, It looks like I will have to put my money where my mouth is now. Using the ALL translation + the prayers on this site it ought to be quite straightforward. Will just warn that I have 3 under 5s and another one due in March so it won’t be overnight!!!

    Out of interest, has anyone ever translated the readings and psalms ICEL free?

  38. Lawrence says:


    If you go back to Dr. Esolen’s thread, you will see this recently added
    comment, by him, in response to another commentor. It is a wonderful
    summary, I think, of what you have been trying to do here:

    The thread.

    the comment:

    I’ve published translations of Lucretius (Latin), Tasso (Italian), and Dante (Italian). That’s poetry, almost 50,000 lines of it. I know that you can’t translate poetry on a word-by-word basis; you can’t even translate prose that way. Languages don’t allow for it.

    I am not accusing the old ICEL committee of having come up with a bad translation. I am accusing them, over and over, of having come up with NO translation at all. And this, as a translator, I find offensive and unconscionable. When I read the Novus Ordo in Latin a couple of summers ago — I’d been asked to provide commentary on the second draft of the translation — I was stunned by how poetic the language was, how filled with Scriptural allusions, and how sacral — it was not the language of the street, or of a business memorandum. I don’t have a copy of that Latin available to me now, but I can tell you that my first reaction was astonishment at how much the “translators” simply didn’t bother to translate at all, but just chucked; and how much they watered down the rest, or altered it to fit a clear theological agenda.

    I’ve said many times that I know that translators make mistakes; I can point you to plenty of my own. But these people at ICEL back in the old days weren’t making mistakes. They chose to suppress the denotative and connotative meanings of the text, the eloquence and pace of the original syntax, the Scriptural allusions, and the sacral character of the diction. When you examine exactly what they did, it becomes clear that they had a theological agenda.

  39. Barbara says:

    Speaking of translations and prayers, does anyone know what the deal is with the new Eucharistic prayers some priests are using? They read out of paper bound book that they sometimes put over the Sacramentary. Also, what are the rules for using the Reconciliation Eucharistic prayers? Are they just another alternative for the priest to use if he feels like it?

    I’ve enjoyed reading this site.

  40. Barbara,
    sounds fishy to me, and I don’t mean Truatman. LOL.

  41. Paul in Bedfordshire (UK) says:

    “New” Eucharistic prayers, first I heard of this, as far as I know the original 4 are still the only ones permitted (with E4 not officially permitted on Sundays – which is a shame really as its one of the better ones)

  42. jbpolhamus says:

    This isn’t really a matter of translation, as it’s just as wrong in the Latin, but I recall the converted (former) Anglican Bishop of London writing in the Catholic Herald in the ’90’s, and rather acidly pointing out the the 4th Eucharistic Prayer is heresy. I must say, I agree with him. To wit: “…Pater sanctae, quia unus es Deus…” or, “Father in Heaven…you alone are God.” No, actually, God the Father is not God alone, but with the Son and the Holy Spirit. It’s called the Trinity. There is only One God, but God is three persons, not one ALONE. So there we are, Vat II cleverness, getting off on the wrong foot right from the beginning. I’m surprised that E4 is still permitted at all.

  43. john says:


    i don’t want to be a nit-picker about things, but…

    firstly, i do not believe that the latin phrase you have cited is in the missal. if it were, it would read “Pater sancte…” (sancte is the masc. vocative singular.) as for “unus es Deus”, i have not seen any version with that in it, however i do not own a printed version either.

    secondly, the phrase “unus es Deus” need not be translated as “you alone are God.” it can also be faithfully translated as “you are the sole (the one, the only) God”, which is doubtlessly true. if using “alone” for “unus”, the english sense of the word “alone” would be “the one and only, like no other, etc.” it is a mistake to interpret “alone”, when used to render “unus”, with a sense of lacking, as in “by oneself, without others, etc.”. if the originator(s) of the latin intended that sense, it very likely they would have used the word “solus”, which carries that sense of “alone” that you are implying.

    thirdly, it is a principle of translation that, if there is a choice between various ways to render something into another language, one must choose a result that is in harmony with the intent of the author(s). choosing a phrase that would contradict Church teaching would be an obvious mistake, since the author(s) would not have had that intent. if such a choice did not exist, that would be a different matter.

    lastly, and most importantly, it is the teaching of the Church concerning the mystery of the Trinty that each Person of the Most Holy Trinity is God completely. in the Father, there is nothing lacking. it is a mistake to imply that He is only one-third of God. it is a more full expression of the truth and the mystery of God to acknowledge Him as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, but it is not wrong to say, “Father, you alone are God” or “Father, you are God alone.” such an expression would merely emphasize the completeness of each Person, as opposed to the Oneness of the Three Persons.


  44. Mila says:


    I have a printed version of the Latin for E4, from the Daily Roman Missal published by Scepter. And you are correct. In the preface, it reads “Pater sancte, quia unos es Deus vivus et verus…” and your comment regarding the translation is absolutely right.

    The other place it appears in E4 is at the beginning of the prayer proper: “Confitemur tibi, Pater sancte, quia magnus es…”, but I don’t think that’s the one jbpolhamus was referring to. Are you a translator? You have a very good grasp of translation options and difficulties.


  45. Marcin says:

    While reading Diogenes’ entry on the latest liturgical exhortation of poor and confused bishop Trautman (or maybe it was a Motu Proprio, after all NOTHING and NO ONE really forced him to say those things, only his own convictions) I finally realized that he is just like Sen. Kerry: equally condescending, and, dare I say, equally Catholic.

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