QUAERITUR: Priest scandalizes religious ed students by disobedience.

Another form of clerical abuse.

From a reader:

I’m a DRE with an important question. Today at Mass, a visiting priest in the diocese indicated the following during his homily:

1. He is very much opposed to the new, more accurate translation.
2. He has allowed females to preach during the liturgy (I can only
imagine he meant he’s allowed females to preach during the homily).
3. He thinks the laity are not intelligent enough to understand what
“consubstantial” & “prevenient grace” are.

That said, during the Narrative Institution & Consecration during the Liturgy of the Eucharist, the visiting priest substituted “for all” in place of “for many”. The priest was looking at the Roman Missal on the altar while he recited the words of Consecration, paused briefly before the phrase “for all” and used “for all”. It certainly seemed as if this visiting priest (who is a priest ordained in my diocese) intentionally used the phrase “for all”. I’ve understood it to be gravely illict to use any formula for Consecration other than the one printed in the translation of the Mass that has been confirmed by the Holy See and that if the degree of departure is substantial enough, the Consecration would be considered invalid. Would the intentional substitution of “for all” instead of the approved “for many” be a degree of departure substantial enough to render the Consecration invalid?

What makes this enough more offensive and scandalous is that some of my students in the religious education program were present for this Mass and were greatly confused by the priest’s homily and actions. I spent nearly all of November preparing and educating my students, who I look upon as my own children, for these new translations. Many were excited to know that we would be using a translation that was closer to the prayers our Catholic ancestors used.

Be sure to review Redemptionis Sacramentum 51 and 176 ff. RS 51 includes the line: “It is not to be tolerated that some Priests take upon themselves the right to compose their own Eucharistic Prayers”

First, the illicit substitution of the words “for all” in place of “for many” would NOT invalidate the consecration. It is, however, unquestionably a serious liturgical abuse. It is scandalous. It should be reported, first of all to the pastor of the parish, and secondly to the diocesan bishop.

If you do write to the local bishop and the pastor, do not fail to explain how disturbing this experience was for the children who had been prepared for the corrected translation.

Use the words “upset” and “children” several times in your letter.

It is unlikely that this sort of priest will be much impressed by a “stern talking-to” by the pastor, or even the bishop. However, something in writing will be added to Father’s file at the chancery where it will remain until some other day or a new bishop comes “which knows not Joseph”.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. The narcissism of these fellows–their total absorption with their own feelings, entirely oblivious to the feelings of others–never ceases to puzzle. Unless, perhaps, one is aware of its high correlation with a certain other proclivity.

  2. Philangelus says:

    I don’t understand how anyone could believe the laity are not intelligent to understand the word “consubstantial.” My ten-year-old daughter understood what it meant. Understood what it meant AND was excited by having such a useful word.

  3. frjim4321 says:

    Seems to be a matter of degree. Have concelebrated a number of funerals in the past five weeks and have not heard one rendition of an EP “straight.” The excursions range from minor (“cup,” “all”) to major (1998 EP’s). I have not heard any make up an EP out of whole cloth.

    I don’t know what degree of embellishment would result in a visit from the temple police; whether omitting “dewfall” would be cause for a summons downtown or not. But I am pretty sure there aren’t any PSR students with their noses stuck in the book proof-checking the presider. If so, there’s something wrong with their formation.

    It’s probably going to take a few years for this all to level off and ordinaries will have to decide where the threshold is to trigger special attention for a given presider. Or, the Vox Clara product could be used as a tool to reign in those who have been problematic but for less demonstrable reasons.

  4. It may be a bit early to assume that “for all” is intentional, but given the rest of the story, it looks probable. Still, I must confess that at first I had particular trouble with the Gloria and the Creed, even when I had the text right in front of my face. It’s like trying to drive slightly outside a rutted path. Now, I can at least read it, but I still wouldn’t recite it correctly without the pew card. So far, though, my experience has been good; of 37 Masses at at least 20 different parishes by probably 25-30 different priests, I have had only two “for all” incidents. Hopefully, the holdouts will see that they are in a tiny minority and start toeing the line.

  5. Marc says:

    Fr. Z-

    There is always some little tid·bit on your blog that brings a slight tear of joyful levity to my day: “which knows not Joseph” was it. Thank you!

  6. Supertradmum says:

    Henry Edwards,

    I know this is the case, at least sometimes, and we have an interesting note in St. Catherine of Siena’s Dialogues to back us up in our suspicions and or knowledge.

  7. frjim4321 says:

    So are we back to permitting cynical innuendo here?

  8. Joy says:

    We had a visiting priest this Sunday, who actually turned around and pulled an old Sacaramentary out from behind some flowers, placing it on the altar alongside the new Sacramentary, and then proceeded to read from the old book (for the Liturgy of the Eucharist). I was shocked, especially at the blatant way in which this was done – it certainly left no room for doubt. I’m not sure that many noticed, or cared, since many in this parish are against the new translation. I’m still not sure what, if anything, I will say, since he was just filling in and is already retired. I just hope this is one of a few isolated incidences.

  9. Banjo pickin girl says:

    Every United Methodist knows what prevenient grace means, why wouldn’t a Catholic?

  10. frjim4321 says:

    “Prevenient Grace” is an important concept. Can’t believe many of my classmates forgot it from “Theology of Grace 101.”

  11. Bryan Boyle says:

    Banjo Pickin’ Girl: considering the state of catechesis over the past few decades…probably was not enough time to cover the concept in between the classes on social justice, economic equality, faithful citizenship, and the plight of immigrants.

    Bring back the Baltimore Catechism, in some form. Build the foundation. Then you can worry about the fluff. But, the catechetics borg has been pushing the fluff whilst ignoring the foundations. Try and find the old Ignatius Press book “Failed Expectations….” by Msgr. Michael Wrenn. He hit the nail on the head, and to his dying day, fought for true catechetical excellence rather than the tapioca-textured feel-good stuff that was de rigeur in the 60s, 70s, and 80s…

  12. flyfree432 says:

    If Father did all that during a Mass I would get up and find a new Mass as he clearly wants to be the center of attention and has no time for Jesus. I can understand why your PSR students were disturbed and is a good occasion to pray for priests. Their burden is heavier than ours.

  13. Supertradmum says:

    “Poor human reason, when it trusts in itself, substitutes the strangest absurdities for the highest divine concepts”

    “Hell is paved with priests’ skulls”

    St. John Chrysostom

  14. Midwest St. Michael says:

    Mr. Boyle,

    The name of the book by Msgr. Wrenn is “Flawed Expectations” – with the subtitle “The Reception of the Catechism of the Catholic Church” – which he co-authored with Kenneth Whitehead. It is an excellent book – as you say.

    Another excellent Ignatius Press book on the dearth of proper catechesis in the last 40+ years by Msgr. Wrenn is “Catechisms and Controversies” (subtitled “Religious Education in the Postconciliar Years).

    Both great resources that have excellent indexes.


  15. Taylor says:

    In that there may be a conflict of interest with the pastor who is responsible for admitting the visiting priest (and should have known better – and should not allow such again), I would recommend informing both pastor and bishop in parallel. The pastor may also need correction. I trust that the bishop, in his wisdom, will know what to do and will take appropriate action. And then follow up with the bishop for details on the action taken. There can not be outright rebellion like this. Rebellion like this is evil. Do not fear for your job – only do what is right and just and all will come out for the better.

  16. albizzi says:

    He thinks the laity are not intelligent enough to understand what
    “consubstantial” & “prevenient grace” are.

    What a pride!

  17. Centristian says:

    Well, he was a visiting priest so here’s a good opportunity to complain to the pastor without complaining about the pastor. After complaining about what the visiting priest said and did, however, I would have no qualms about approaching the pastor and suggesting to him that he ought to warn his parishioners before foisting an extremist guest clergyman upon them, giving them the opportunity to make plans to go to Mass at another parish that week lest their children be scandalized.

  18. frjim4321 says: Seems to be a matter of degree. Have concelebrated a number of funerals in the past five weeks and have not heard one rendition of an EP “straight.” The excursions range from minor (“cup,” “all”) to major (1998 EP’s). I have not heard any make up an EP out of whole cloth

    Of course priests are going to lapse into old habits from time to time. But deliberately refusing to use the new translation is something else entirely.

  19. A few years ago, there was a visiting priest who came to my parish to do the annual mission appeal. I felt compelled to apologize to the parish the following week for his actions. (If I had been here, I would have sent him packing after the first Mass.)

    It was all good though, I later heard that he complained about my parish the following week.

  20. Bryan Boyle says:

    Midwest st. Michael..I know…Msgr. was my spiritual director for 25 years..:). I have his rosary which he left me after he passed…a good friend, and warrior for the Church. I think he and Father Z would have gotten along rather well, don’t you?

  21. mibethda says:

    A few days ago, in the absence of our pastor, morning Mass was offered by a visiting priest – his use of the new translation was perfect to a word (I was following, as always, in my Magnificat and he neither missed nor stumbled upon a single word), with proper cadence and complete fidelity to the rubrics. Most of the Canon was said from memory without reference to the Missal. It happens that he was the Bishop’s secretary.

  22. Papabile says:


    I respectfully submit that use of the words “for all” may well now invalidate the consecration in certain instances.

    I would answer the objection — that it never previously invalidated the consecration, so it would not invalidate it now — by asserting that in the past the Church supplied for lack of specific intention because it approved a form that did not adequately capture the translation of “pro multis”.

    Now, depending on the specific intention of the Priest, the use of the words “for all” may or may not invalidate the consecration.

    For example, a Priest consecrates using the words “for all” with the intention of meaning them as if using the words “pro omnibus”, would that not invalidate the consecration? The words “for all” are no longer part of the form, and using them with the intention of the meaning of “pro omnibus” would be asserting a specific heresy regarding the fruits of salvation.

    Father, for the most part, I excuse Priests in this. It is very hard to change thee words we use after using them consistently for forty years. However, when one does it intentionally, and does not mean what the Church intends, I could see this as affecting validity.

    I wish to make clear that I am not questioning the efficaciousness of the Sacraments ex opere operato. However, does not intent affect validity?

  23. robtbrown says:


    I’m sorry, but that is not correct. Sacramental Form designates the Sacramental Matter. It is invalid when it fails to communicate this designation, violating the essence of the Sacrament. That which designates the matter is Hic est enim calix Sanguinis Mei. The pro multis indicates the effect of the Sacrament, not its essence.

  24. James Joseph says:

    If it’s worth anything I finally heard for the very first time in my entire life five things. The first three I have only waited just over a month despite not missing Sunday Mass in that period.

    1. The new translation of the Gloria.
    2. The new translation of the Confiteor.
    3. The new translation of the entire Creed, and not just the Apostles Creed.

    ..and the fourth and fifth things I have waited thirty-odd years to witness in person.
    4. A homily on the Blessed Virgin Mary.
    5. A priest talk about the Rosary

    Waiting for (I think two-years or so now) to hear the Roman Canon.

  25. Again why are these characters allowed to function as priests? Bishops, do your job!

  26. robtbrown says:

    frjim4321 says:
    So are we back to permitting cynical innuendo here?

    That seems like ivory tower clericalism. The truth is that for a variety of reasons the laity no longer trusts priests.

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