America Magazine article about the dissident petition against the new translation

First, I have an ACTION ITEM for you WDTPRSers.

I urge people to look at the petition "We’ve Waited Long Enough".

When you sign that petition, use a real name.   On the dissident petition, there are more signatures but a very high percentage of them are "anonymous" or even bogus.  Some creepy weirdo has tried several times to put my name on that petition.  That means there is no oversight or even concern that real people are signing it.

Let’s get on…

America Magazine
, published by the Jesuits, includes a piece by Fr. Peter Stravinskas about the online dissident petition against the new translation of the Roman Missal.

I have written several times about this online petition, which is hosted by the rector of the Cathedral of the Archdiocese of Seattle.. which leads to other questions.

My emphases and comments.

Defending the New Roman Missal
A response to Father Michael Ryan
Peter M. J. Stravinskas | FEBRUARY 1, 2010

In his essay “Why Don’t We Say, ‘Wait?’” (Dec. 14), Father Michael Ryan describes his involvement in the liturgical renewal following the Second Vatican Council. Let me begin my response to his article by doing the same.

[Let’s move along.]

In his essay, Father Ryan argues that not enough consultation has taken place, and that “we should just say, “Wait’” before implementing the new translations. I disagree. As a Web site set up to defend the new translation proclaims, “We’ve waited long enough!”

Ryan argues that the Roman Curia and other parties are involved in a “systematic dismantling of the great vision of the Council’s decree” and that the Congregation for Divine Worship is raising “rubricism to an art form,” with liturgy being used “as a weapon—to advance specific agendas.” In my view, present efforts are precisely seeking to reclaim “the great vision of the council’s” constitution. Over the years my various apostolates have provided me with a vantage point from which to consider liturgical life in this country and abroad. So much of what I have witnessed or had described to me by eyewitnesses has been nothing shy of a betrayal of the council’s great vision and, in my judgment, largely responsible for the rapid emptying of the pews.

What curial officials and the pope are arguing for, with the enthusiastic support of junior clergy, [v. the aging hippie set… or more benignly the older men who just don’t want to deal with another wave of changes.] is not a moribund “rubricism” [A vapid charge if there was one.  Rubricism?  With the Novus Ordo?  Is that even possible?] but a genuine ars celebrandi [cf. Benedict XVI’s Sacramentum caritatis.] that makes the sacred mysteries palpable. Not a few observers have noted that much of the liturgical change that occurred after the council—both officially sanctioned as well as in explicit violation of church law—would have been unthinkable to the council fathers. What is required now is a careful re-building process. [Brick by brick?] Is this “turning back the clock”? In some sense, it is. Permit me a mundane example. If a man is told by his physician that he must lose 50 pounds or face serious problems, he must “turn back the clock” to the time when he was lighter in order to save his life. Mutatis mutandis—that is what the church at the highest levels is calling us to do.

Father Ryan writes that “before long the priests of this country will be told to take the new translations to their people by means of a carefully orchestrated education program…” The author makes such efforts sound almost sinister, but in my book he is simply describing the process of catechesis. I hope that this process will be better handled than the “carefully orchestrated education program” that followed the postconciliar liturgical changes. In 1977 priests throughout the country were required to preach for three consecutive weekendsm, not simply on the issue of Communion-in-the-hand, but on why it should be done. [Perhaps we should ask priests to preach about why it should it done…. if you know what I mean.] Many priests who balked at the historically inaccurate catechetical materials were harassed by liturgical directors and even threatened by bishops with suspension. It seems that many of those who pushed for the reforms are waking up to find their program repudiated and have now become conservatives, opposed to change.

Father Ryan shares the concern of Bishop Donald Trautman of Erie, Pa., the former chairman of the Bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy, who has complained that the U.S.C.C.B. did not have a direct hand in the antiphons of the Missale Romanum. In a speech to the bishops conference in November, Bishop Trautman cited paragraph 36 of Sacrosanctum Concilium, which he argued gave the episcopal conferences the authority to produce and approve liturgical translations. Yet the paragraph in question in no way calls for what Bishop Trautman demands: it stipulates that episcopal conferences are to approve translations (not produce them), with subsequent approval by the Holy See.

Ironically, the very same paragraph of the conciliar constitution also states that, “The use of the Latin language, with due respect to particular law, is to be preserved in the Latin rites….Care must be taken to ensure that the faithful may also be able to say or sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them.” In other words, if paragraph 36 had been followed in regard to the primacy of Latin, the Ordinary of the Mass would not have been translated into the vernacular in the first place!  [If people don’t like the new translation, they can always have Holy Mass in Latin and people can bring the book with the translation they prefer.]

Examining the Translation

Finally, Father Ryan highlights as examples of a liturgical agenda “at best trivial and at worst hopelessly out-of-touch” several new texts that are products of “flawed principles of translation.” I am delighted with the examples he proffers because each is, in fact, an exemplar of what is so important about the new translation project.  [I have written a zillion times on this.  Basically, it is okay sometimes for a translation to sound like a translation when that is the only way you can get to the content of the original.  Also, in my experience people find a stricter translation to be far more interesting, which serves to engage the mind and will.]


We are warned by Father Ryan to expect “discredit to the church” and “disillusionment to the people” if the new translation sees the light of day. He tells us of the “chilling reception” it has received in South Africa, in spite of a “careful program of catechesis in the parishes.” I beg to differ. There was no “program of catechesis” to speak of in South Africa and, in fact, some liturgical observers even argue that the translation was thrust onto the faithful precisely to cause a negative reaction. [EXACTLY!] Having conducted several workshops on the new texts over the past year, I can only attest to very positive reactions, from clergy and laity alike. [This isn’t hard.  Really… it isn’t.]

How did the final texts receive such overwhelming support from the American bishops, if they are so bad? Father Ryan contends that the bishops were just “worn down” by the Holy See and so caved in. I disagree. [Well… I think they were, to a certain extent.  They too recognized that this had gone on long enough.]  The majority of the bishops saw the merit of the work and were tired of the delaying tactics of a vocal if tiny minority of opponents. [They were indeed worn down… by the carping of the delayers.] Is this translation perfect? Of course not. No translation is, but we ought never make the best the enemy of the good. [sounds familiar….] It is a vast improvement over the uninspiring, banal and all-too-often theologically problematic texts we have been using for nearly 40 years. The New Testament speaks of chairos, an especially fortuitous moment. [Good point.  Though I think that should be kairos, no?  Isn’t kappa is usually transliterated with "k"?] We are approaching a liturgical chairos for English-speaking Catholics, which we should embrace with gusto.

In addition to Father Ryan’s article and the Web site he set up to summon support for further delays, he has also written to the rectors of all the cathedrals in the country seeking to rally them to his cause. His campaign has provoked a counterreaction among younger clergy and seminarians who have helped to set up the site “We’ve waited long enough.” The site has already garnered thousand of signatures and should give pause to Ryan and his supporters. It is these young priests, after all, who will be using these texts when our generation (God willing) will be participating in the Liturgy of Heaven, where language will not be an issue.  [A note about the counter petition below.]

Rev. Peter Stravinskas is the editor of The Catholic Response, publisher of Newman House Press and executive director of the Catholic Education Foundation.

I urge people to look at the petition "We’ve Waited Long Enough".

When you sign that petition, use a real name.   On the dissident petition, there are more signatures but a very high percentage of them are "anonymous" or even bogus.  Some creepy weirdo has tried several times to put my name on that petition.  That means there is no oversight or even concern that real people are signing it.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. TJerome says:

    Father Stravinskas, is always lucid and on point. I went to the article in America and posted comments in support of him. I was pleasantly surprised to
    see that many others wrote in support of his views. Tom

  2. Well, I signed the “faster, please” petition a long time back, with my real name, and I haven’t changed my mind. I’m still really mad about the current translation misleading me on the conjugation of credere in that Latin test in high school.

    If this next bit is a rabbit hole away from topic, please ignore it. I just want to know some actual factual dates, or at least a liturgical season.

    What’s puzzling me is this 1977 homily series. I was at church every week by then, and I don’t remember this at all. Is this where all the weird ideas got promulgated? I wonder when that was, because honestly, I’m pretty sure I couldn’t have totally zoned out three Sundays in a row, because the list of saints’ days during the week in the Missalette weren’t _that_ fascinating. If somebody has dates, my old parish has bulletins online from back then.

    All I remember was that one week at school, they explained that we could also receive Communion in the hand if we wanted, and taught us how, and that was it. Of course, nobody had ever explained to us why we received Communion in the mouth, during my First Communion class a year or so before that, so we had no idea there was anything going on that needed catechesis. (Heck, we didn’t expect any whys and wherefores in religion class at all, because we never got any until JPII came in. Mostly because nobody adult knew what was supposed to still be true, and they didn’t want to steer us wrong.)

  3. Peazy says:

    I signed the “We’ve Waited Long Enough” Petition :D

  4. I don’t like rabbit holes.

  5. Paul M says:

    I suspect the “We’ve Waited Long Enough” folks will get a flood of signees. Father, is there a name for this phenomenon, like the “Z wave” or “Z effect”? Surely the evidence is enough for a name. :)

    Thank you for pointing this out.

  6. claiborneinmemphis says:

    Apparently, there is actually some sort of oversight on the dissenting site. I say that because someone from my diocese signed the petition as “A Disobedient Catholic”, and the signature was removed within minutes. I suppose they didn’t appreciate my (I mean, someone’s) dry sense of humor.

  7. Henry Edwards says:

    Father Z: I assume you wanted to restrict your quotation of the article to current translation issues, but I thought Fr. Stravinskas’ description of his involvement with the original ICEL was revealing:

    “When I first reviewed the translation guidelines sent by ICEL, I was disappointed. Ideology, it seemed, had taken precedence over accuracy. Anima was not to be rendered as “soul,” I was informed, because doing so would set up an unnecessary dichotomy between body and soul. No feminine pronouns were to be used for the church, and common words were favored over precise theological or liturgical vocabulary. The goal was to capture the general meaning of the text, rather than a faithful rendering of a rich and historically layered Latin prose.”

    I have long thought that the worser problem with the lame duck ICEL translation is not that it is embarrassingly banal but that it was ideologically driven with the evident goal of negating (at least by omission) numerous essential Catholic concepts and doctrines.

  8. B16generation says:

    Fr. Z and all,
    I’m 25 years old and love the Church (and this blog!). Having lived in the Seattle Archdiocese for 10 years now (never happy with Seattle’s direction and getting more stirred up by the moment), I can’t wait for Pope BXVI to appoint a new Archbishop for us! Our current Archbishop Brunett turned in his letter last year, but said he’d like to stay on. I hope not, please Lord! Anyway, I think it’s about time to organize a grassroots effort to petition for his replacement (to the College of Bishops, Nuncio, etc.) now! Our family has already sent in two letters to the competent authorities expressing our desire for a new Archbishop and explaining our realistic concerns with Brunett (facts about problems always help, as we used). And/or, let’s petition the Archbishop to censure Fr. Ryan or replace him as rector of the Cathedral (though the two of them are certainly of like-mind). Anything… but let’s get people, especially in the Seattle area, moving and motivated to stand up for the true Church (and the new missal! or latin!!!!!!!) What do y’all think?

  9. B16generation says:

    BTW, the pictures on the website of St. James Cathedral (Seattle) are pretty interesting… especially from the “Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration”. See: Talk about liturgical creativity! (aka – abuses)

  10. Tom in NY says:

    Rev. Stravinskas showed up the game in his two examples about “anima” and the lack of correct pronouns to accompany Holy Mother Church. Reverend Moderator’s exegetical comments on individual prayers suggest too much was lost in translation of many prayers.

    It’s good translation to use “one in being” rather than “consubstantial”. It can be good to make two or three English sentences from one in Latin. But it’s not good to steal the Latin’s richness from the English speaker. Perhaps indeed Rev. Stravinskas spent time in the Seton Hall stacks with the AAS. It appears I followed him years later.
    Salutationes omnibus.

  11. wanda says:

    From our Catholic Newspaper today..’The Pope’s chief liturgist, Msgr. Guido Marini, endorsed calls in the Church for a ‘reform of the reform’ of Catholic Liturgy.’

    ‘..voices have been heard within church circles talking about the necessity of a new liturgical renewal’..’a fresh renewal movement would move one more step ahead in understanding the authentic spirit of the liturgy and it’s celebration.’

    Spoken to a conference of Priests gathered in Rome to mark the Year for Priests.

    Brick by Brick from Rome!

  12. TJerome says:

    I looked at Father Ryan’s bio on the parish website and learned that he has served on the Board of Directors of our favorite left-wing rag, the National “Catholic” Reporter. I think that pretty much sums up where he’s coming from on almost any issue. Tom

  13. capchoirgirl says:

    Just signed. Brick by brick.

  14. John V says:

    I offer here the same comment I made at The New Liturgical Movement post linking to Fr. Stravinskas’s article:

    God bless Fr. Stravinskas for his faithful perseverence through four decades. Could there be a better example of how to handle a situation where one disagrees with the direction being taken by those in authority?

    I found paragraphs 4-6, excerpted below, particularly striking (emphasis added):

    “When the English Missale Romanum appeared in 1970 , it was clear we had been handed a paraphrase instead of a translation. As a young priest required to use these texts, I quickly determined that something needed to be done . . . . By 1992, I had assembled a team of scholars who produced an alternative translation . . . and presented that effort to the Bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy in Washington, D.C., and the Congregation for Divine Worship in Rome. Hostility was the response from Washington—copies of our draft were gathered and destroyed at the bishops’ meeting—while Rome expressed a guarded interest in our project. . . .
    In 2001 the Congregation for Divine Worship promulgated Liturgiam Authenticam . . . . The document called for revised translations . . . . many complained that the project would never be completed because of the painstakingly sensitive consultative process. Yet with guidance from Vox Clara and experts in Rome, the new text was completed and was approved by the U.S. bishops in 2009.”

  15. Jayna says:

    I’m surprised this made it into America. Pleasantly surprised, that is. My priest has a subscription, perhaps I’ll make sure to point out this article to him. Great piece that will reach a lot of readers that wouldn’t otherwise be exposed to this opinion on the matter.

  16. Mike says:

    Just signed.

    Reading at Rorate about perhaps some changes in the wings.

    Lord, help us to worship you with beauty, reverence, and the voices of the saints that have adorned your altars for centuries.

  17. Supertradmom says:

    Great article and great comments from Father Z…I think the oppositions to the changes are some of the last gasps of the liberal left to keep their hegemony in liturgical planning, or rather unplanned liturgies…

  18. ssoldie says:

    I go to the T.L.M. or ‘Gregorian Rite’ as Pope Benedict XVI calls it. So I have no interest as to what changes will take place in the N.O.M.,as what happened after the council was something else entirely: in the place of liturgy as the fruit of development came fabricated liturgy. We abandoned the organic,living process of growth and development over the centuries, and ‘replaced’ it–as in a manufacturing process– with a ‘fabrication’, a banal on- the-spot product. ( Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger) If this was true then -is it still true now?

  19. Supertradmom says:

    No offense ssoldie, but you belong to the Holy Catholic Church which allows the novus ordo. It seems to me that you must care about what happens outside the TLM. We are all brothers and sisters in Christ and cannot allow a “bunker mentality” or cliquishness. Some of us do not have easy or even semi-difficult access to our beloved traditional Mass.

  20. Subdeacon Joseph says:

    How about “The Z Factor.”

  21. catholicmidwest says:

    I keep checking that dissident petition just so I know where the nuts in the diocese are. It’s good for that. Let’s me know where to avoid.

  22. catholicmidwest says:

    As they discover “it,” I discover them. :)

  23. This whole “movement” of stalling the new translations is gonna fail…big time.
    They’re just a bunch of whiny, self-absorbed, “has-beens” that are just screaming right now…I taught high school a long time ago…I know this syndrome…yell long and hard enough and think you might manipulate somebody.
    Well, Rome is in charge now. And it does not look like they’re gonna “buckle” under this adolescent you-know-what (I am trying, trying to be good this New Year not to scandalize the faithful!).
    Yeah, Msgr. Ryan and all your followers, scream all you want. Be disobedient. Thumb your noses at legitimate authority.
    Faithful Catholics are not gonna be impressed. Nor will they follow you, nor will they go to Mass where you were being flagrantly disobedient.
    Otherwise. Let the cards fall where they may.
    This is spiritual warfare. And those who do not know this are going to be in big trouble.

  24. Well, the “virus” has jumped over “the pond”…yeah, the BIG POND, in other words the UK.
    Damien Thompson’s article:

    Will this psycho-drama never end?

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