Anyone You Know Here?

You know about the dustup over whether the “What If We Just Said Wait” petition counts for much. Thanks to Graham Wilson for tallying up the following.  –Ed.

Who would ever take this seriously?

ME and …

Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen, retired Archbishop of Seattle
Abbot Michael Kelly OSBSilv., Abbot-general of Silvestrian Benedictines (Rome)
Abbot Timothy Kelly OSB, Abbot-president of American-Cassinese Benedictine Congregation
Fr Timothy Radcliffe OP, former Master of the Dominican Order
Fr Donald LaSalle, Vicar-General of the Montfort Missionaries (Rome)
Fr Stephen Privett SJ, President, University of San Francisco
Fr John Baldovin SJ, liturgy professor at Boston College
Fr Albert Nolan OP, South African theologian, declined election as Master of OP order (1983)
Fr Nicholas King SJ, scripture scholar, Campion Hall (Oxford)
Fr Anscar Chupungco OSB, former president, rector, Pontifical Liturgical Institute (Rome)
Dr John R. Page, former executive-director of ICEL
Fr Brian Pierce OP, general promoter of the nuns, Dominican Curia (Rome)
Fr Charles Bouchard OP, former president of the Aquinas Institute of Theology (St Louis)
Richard Proulx, American composer and conductor
Fr John O’Malley SJ, historian and author of “What Happened at Vatican II”
Msgr Harry Byrne, canon lawyer, Archdiocese of New York
Fr Raymond Rafferty, pastor of Corpus Christi Parish (New York)
Fr Charles Finnegan OFM, theologian, “peritus” for Brazilian bishops at Vatican Council II
Fr Peter C. Phan, theologian/professor, Georgetown University
Fr Phillip Endean SJ, past editor of The Way, Campion Hall (Oxford)
Fr Thomas Ivory, former rector of the American College (Louvain)
Fr Daneil Madigan SJ, Islam expert at Georgetown University
Sr Suzanne Zuercher OSB, popular author of spiritualiy
Fr Thomas Reese SJ, Woodstock Theological Centre (Georgetown University)
Fr Thomas Michel SJ, former director of Islamic desk, Pont. Council for Interrelig Dialogue, now in Turkey
Fr John Burchill OP, theologian and retreat master (Providence,RI)
Professor Nicholas Lash, emeritus Cambridge
Dr Michael Walsh, author and former librarian of Heythrop College (London)
Fr Donald Cozzens, author
Fr Andrew Cameron-Mowat SJ, professor of liturgy, Heythrop College (University of London)
Sr Joan Chittister OSB, author and lecturer
Mr Christopher Walker, composer
Mr Robert Mickens, journalist, Rome correspondent (The Tablet)
Mr Bryan Cones, editor (U.S. Catholic)
Ms Margaret O’Brien Steinfels, writer, former editor of Commonweal, co-director of the Center on Religion and Culture (Fordham University)
Fr John Coleman SJ, sociologist, theologian (Loyola Marymount University)
Mr Kevin Mayhew, editor and publisher of liturgical books
Eleanor Sharpston, advocate general at the Court of Justice of the European Communities
Fr John D. Whitney SJ, immediate past provincial superior of the Oregon SJ
Fr Michael van Heerden, president, St Augustine College of South Africa
Fr Larry Kaufmann CSsR, provincial superior of the Redemptorists in South Africa
Sr Katherine Gaylor OP, provincial superior of the Cabra Dominicans in South Africa
Mr Paul Johnson, historian and author (UK)
Fr Gerard Moloney CSsR, editor of Reality magazine (Ireland)
Dr Paul Lakeland, professor of Catholic studies at Fairfield University, CT (USA)
Mr Michael P. Hornsby-Smith, sociologist and author (UK)
Fr Ambrose Tinsley OSB, popular author (Ireland)
Fr Gerald O’Collins SJ, theologian and author (Australia)
Mr Geoffrey Chapman, publisher (UK)
Fr Ben Vocking OP, provincial superior of the Dutch Dominicans

… those whose names I recognize as prominent. No doubt there are many others among the 17,700 other Catholics, including over 2,200 priests. All of these I assume take the petition and its list seriously.

Graham Wilson





31 responses to “Anyone You Know Here?”

  1. Fr. Allan McDonald Avatar

    I’ve heard of a few of these, don’t know any of them, but I didn’t see Pope Benedict’s name on it. Is there something implied in that? I guess we’ll just have to “wait.”

  2. Christopher Milton Avatar
    Christopher Milton

    Um, can anybody verify that these people REALLY signed this, and somebody didn’t just put their name down? I’m thinking more about Bishops than the Sr. Joans and the Fr. Reeses.

    Just curious. To me, a Facebook fan page is more legitimate than a web page with a bunch of “signatures.”

  3. Adam Bartlett Avatar
    Adam Bartlett

    This just might count for something if only the Church were a democracy. But because it’s not there probably won’t be any “waiting”.

  4. Jeffrey Herbert Avatar

    As I was the one who asked “Who would ever take this seriously?”, I have to say that I’m still quite underwhelmed . Firstly…yes, how do we know that these more prominent individuals actually signed this?

    Also, and I mean nothing derogatory in saying so, there seems to be a disproportionate number of academics, theologians and writers on this list. Perhaps because they are prominent they were the ones cited here rather than parish priests and the such. Wouldn’t there almost certainly be a corresponding number of “prominent” Bishops, clergy etc… who are in favor of not waiting?

    I have to agree that everyone is entitled to their opinion, so the assertion that “Me and ….” take this seriously does little more than show the tenacity of some viewpoints in the face of inevitability. I hope they will take implemetation as seriously…

  5. Rita Ferrone Avatar
    Rita Ferrone

    There are quite a few parish priests who have signed as well. Graham said 2,200 priests; I haven’t counted, but I do see a lot of names I know. Respected pastors of parishes, not just emeriti. I’ve also been struck by the number of linguists, translators, and experts in ancient languages who have signed this. The comments illustrate the whole gamut.

  6. Rita Ferrone Avatar
    Rita Ferrone

    Democracy is not the issue. Prudence is.

    1. Fr. Allan McDonald Avatar

      Rita, prudence is all the more reason to get these reticent types moving!I know these people have seen a lot of change and have a hard time with it, but really! How long must we wait, till the Second Coming?

  7. Graham Wilson Avatar
    Graham Wilson

    FYI – The list is based on a shorter one originally compiled by Robert Mickens in January. Robert is the The Tablet’s Rome correspondent.

  8. William Henry Avatar
    William Henry

    All the usual suspects!

    1. Karl Liam Saur Avatar
      Karl Liam Saur

      Capt Renault has been informed.

  9. Paul Inwood Avatar
    Paul Inwood

    The grapevine says that as many as half the priests of the diocese of Leeds, whose bishop is +Arthur Roche, chair of ICEL, have signed the petition. Hmmm.

    1. Karl Liam Saur Avatar
      Karl Liam Saur

      28 priests (including those anonymously) from Leeds are listed as signing.

  10. Jeffrey Herbert Avatar

    I don’t see how advocating opposition to an inevitable action is in any way “prudent”, even if you’re a priest, an academic, a linguist or whatever. The point is to create a straw-man claiming to be “legitimate opposition” who can then be portrayed as run over, ignored, silenced and marginalized by “the hierarchy” when they follow the course which they have always intended to follow long before the straw-man was even in the way. This is a common political activist tactic and actually works very well when the targets are elected officials who need votes and the issue is subject to popular support. Neither of these is the case here, so with all due respect it comes off as a bit misguided and ill conceived if the actual desire is to propose a “trial-use” plan or other such program. How about a consortium of high-ranking Bishops and Theologians meeting with the Pope?

  11. Cody C.  Unterseher Avatar

    These are pastors, academics, major superiors, composers, historians, liturgists — all educated folks who have qualms about the forthcoming translations. They represent a wide swath of the ecclesial “conservative-to-liberal” spectrum.

    I don’t think any of them intend outright disobedience. Nor, I would guess, do they expect that this is some sort of democratizing move in the church.

    In spite of some heavy-handed comments that have (for better or worse) been published with the petition, “What If We Just Said Wait” serves for its signers the purpose of placing a collective red-flag on the forthcoming translations. If even one person involved in its promulgation or implementation says “Hey, there’s concern here” and recognizes the competence of those whose concern it is, the petition will have served its purpose.

    1. Kathy Pluth Avatar

      Among the names I recognize, I don’t notice anyone of on the conservative end of the ecclesial spectrum. I do recognize a number of names of outspoken liberal voices.

      I think the questions involved in liturgical expression are much too important to be dominated by these old ecclesiological arguments.

      1. Jeffrey Herbert Avatar


        You state the obvious so well. I’m becoming convinced that the opposition to the new translation has little to do with the actual translation and more to do with objecting to the traditional direction of the liturgy these past few years. It would seem, as you point out, that if there were serious structural problems with the texts that criticism would be equally demonstrated by traditionalist and progressive liturgists and theologians. As it is though, it appears that the objections have more to do with political implications of the overall approach (Traditional/Progressive) than with actual flaws in the texts themselves.

      2. Rita Ferrone Avatar
        Rita Ferrone

        Of course labels are notoriously difficult and one person’s conservative is another person’s reactionary. But if you mean liturgically conservative, I only wish I could beam you in to some of the liturgies presided over by some of the priests I know personally who have signed this petition. Gregorian chant, meticulous attention to correct celebration and ceremonial (incense, servers well-trained, etc.), and all the things normally associated with liturgical conservatism are in evidence. Of course they love Vatican II. Is that an “old ecclesiological argument”?

    2. Kathy Pluth Avatar


      One definition of “conservative” might be one who takes the documents of Vatican II more seriously than the “spirit” of Vatican II, and/or does not tend to identify the progressiveness of the Vatican II era with the Council itself.

      I’m holding out hope that these attitudes will someday be recognized as middle-of-the-road! But for now, I don’t see any of those on the list provided whose names I recognize and whom I know to be “conservative” in this sense.

      1. Kathy Pluth Avatar

        I should clarify my remarks. The Holy Father has famously said that there is a problem when the Council documents are read according to a “hermeutic of rupture” instead of a “hermeneutic of reform, of continuity and discontinuity on different levels.”

        I agree that the hermeneutic of rupture is a problem. But I feel that a more prevalant problem is what I would call a trajectorial reading of the Council. (I honestly haven’t ever heard anyone express precisely this opinion, and although I could be mistaken, I do tend to believe that something like it is prevalent.) According to my understanding of this point of view, the conciliar event is taken to be only the radical beginning of an ongoing process of liberalization in the Church.

        The process is taken to be the meaning of the Council, and to reverse this process is taken to be a departure or denial of the Council itself.

  12. Jeffrey Herbert Avatar


    This is true… there are also a great many well-educated pastors, academics, historians and liturgists who are solidly behind the new translation. They also represent a “wide swath” of the ecclesial spectrum. To try and portray the supporters of the new translation as all traditionalist zealots and the opposition as reasonable and diverse is to set up an artificial conflict. The vast majority of the folks out there are more likely in the “I don’t know and really don’t have an opinion” category.

  13. Fr. Christopher Costigan Avatar
    Fr. Christopher Costigan

    The big issue is distinguishing between the “academic debate” about the translations and the pastoral concern of their implementation. If any of the people on the list have been actively inciting their parishioners against the translations, I would consider that to be a greater problem than the words themselves. I fear the reaction in the cathedral in Seattle when Advent 2011 (or whatever the chosen date is) comes and the people are angry because they were led to believe that if enough people signed this petition the translations would be scrapped. And poor Fr. Ryan, who started this whole thing, now has lost all credibility in properly catechizing the people for the changes when they come.

  14. Rita Ferrone Avatar
    Rita Ferrone

    Fr. Ryan hasn’t lost any credibility over this. He has gained some. Did anyone notice he is featured in some of the materials instructing people about the new translations? He is a good soldier, but also is not afraid to say “the emperor has no clothes” when it’s clear this is the case. People respect this.

  15. Karl Liam Saur Avatar
    Karl Liam Saur

    I would heartily second Rita’s comment of 1:04pm today that there are certainly signers of the kind she describes. Fr Baldovin comes readily to mind in my personal experience.

    My criticism of the petition is primarily that it is poorly thought out as a tool and even as a form of witness (to use another term, I think it was “unripe” and the Internet as a medium too readily invites dramatic unveilings of unripe thought).

  16. Jeffrey Herbert Avatar

    He is a good soldier, but also is not afraid to say “the emperor has no clothes” when it’s clear this is the case.

    Now really!! Once again, is it really that clearly the case? What you are saying here is that there is a HUGE group of people who are clearly wrong, and that you are clearly right. I think it’s going to have to be acknowledged at some point that the “goodness” or “poorness” of the new translation all depends on your opinion of it, much as the “goodness” or “poorness” of the current translation is also such an opinion.

  17. Fr. Christopher Costigan Avatar
    Fr. Christopher Costigan

    The point of view I find from many on this issue is as follows. First, those in favor of the new translation will admit that is it not perfect (and of course no translation can be) but it is superior to the one currently in use. I don’t find many saying they are the best thing ever. Those opposed will generally point out some flaws in the proposed translation but will never admit any flaws in the current Missal. Or they will point out translations to a prior edition of the Missal that were not used.

  18. Rita Ferrone Avatar
    Rita Ferrone

    Fr. Costigan, I don’t know that critics of the new translation have no awareness of the shortcomings of the translations currently in use. I certainly have. But if this translation is implemented, we are stuck with yet another bad translation. There are also detailed critiques, which get beyond summary statements. Fr. Joseph O’Leary, professor of literature, offers a scathing one in several posts which can be found here:

  19. Kathy Pluth Avatar


    Critiques can be scathing yet unhelpful, as are most of Fr. O’Leary’s insights on the new translations.

    One of Fr. O’Leary’s endlessly combatative arguments rests on the choice of the word “recognize,” to translate agnosce.” That is surely the word one would choose to translate St. Leo the Great’s Christmas admonition, “Agnosce, o Christiane, dignitatem tuam.” Perception is not enough–perception can mean a brief appearance. What is needed here is acknowledgement, remembrance, recognition of the covenant; prayer for God’s remembrance of the covenant fills the Old Testament.

    1. Karl Liam Saur Avatar
      Karl Liam Saur

      It also doesn’t help that his writing is virtually unreadable for long stretches. His complaint about pleonasms is prescriptive rather than descriptive (that is, he treats pleonasms as relatively foreign to English usage, but they are more common in English usage than he appears to realize). (In the USA, for example, Yankee (that is, New England), New Yawk and Southern vernaculars are forested with ’em.)

  20. Rita Ferrone Avatar
    Rita Ferrone

    Kathy, although Fr. O’Leary isn’t always helpful, he makes some excellent points, and his analysis is detailed which is why I cited him here.

  21. Ian Williams Avatar
    Ian Williams

    Thank you for the link to Fr. O’Leary’s insights, Rita. They reminded me that the sacrifice of Calvary is a stumbling block to the Jews and a scandal to the Gentiles. In this context, “recognise” is both forceful and appropriate.

  22. Charles Ladnere Avatar
    Charles Ladnere

    I would suspect that many of those who have signed this petition have a substantial personal investment- perhaps a lifetime investment- in the transformation of the liturgy that occurred in the post Vatican II period. I would think it very difficult for such people to accept the judgement that some of their efforts were so deeply flawed, so perhaps the best attitude towards the petitioners is one of sympathy and understanding.

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