“A Cold Wind from Rome” by Bishop Taylor

Bishop Maurice Taylor was Roman Catholic Bishop of Galloway, Scotland, 1981-2004. He was on the Episcopal Board of ICEL (the International Commission on English in the Liturgy) for more than ten years, and was chair of that body 1997-2002. Bishop Taylor’s 2009 book It’s the Eucharist, Thank God is a collection of essays on various aspects of the liturgy. With kind permission from Decani Books we reprint one chapter from this book, “A Cold Wind from Rome,” in which Bishop Taylor speaks of the relationship between ICEL and the Holy See during his time as Episcopal chair. The chapter begins with a reference to the 1997 English sacramentary which was approved by every English-speaking bishops’ conference, unanimously in some cases, but rejected by the Holy See.

“A_Cold_Wind_from_Rome” by Bishop Maurice Taylor

Technology tip: If you have an Adobe PDF reader, push the three keys CTRL SHIFT +  at the same time, and it rotates clockwise 90 degrees. You should have buttons allowing you to enlarge it.





19 responses to ““A Cold Wind from Rome” by Bishop Taylor”

  1. Jack Rakosky Avatar
    Jack Rakosky

    The pdf of this file displays vertically rather than horizontally so I had to print it out in order to read it.

    Needing to print may deter people from reading it, or at least make it likely that people will take some time before they get around to reading it or may find difficulty in commenting on it because they cannot copy and past phrases from it.

    1. Anthony Ruff, OSB Avatar
      Anthony Ruff, OSB

      Jack – thanks for the tip. I’ll add this also to the main post: If you have an Adobe PDF reader, push the three keys CTRL SHIFT + at the same time, and it rotates clockwise 90 degrees. You should have buttons allowing you to enlarge it also. If you select and cut from the PDF, it will be possible to paste this in a Word document – but alas, as a graphic, not as edit-able text.

  2. RP Burke Avatar
    RP Burke

    Macintosh users, in the Preview application, need only (a) select all the pages; and (b) go to the Tools menu for the rotate commands to correctly orient document for reading on screen.

  3. F C Bauerschmidt Avatar

    All technical issues aside, this makes for very sad reading. I’m sure the “other side” has its own version of events, but it is hard to imagine it could really account for the lack of concern for individuals and their years of service to the Church that these events display.

  4. Paul Inwood Avatar
    Paul Inwood

    Thank you for making more widely available the chapter I referred to in my review of Keith Pecklers’ book some time back.

    It does make very sad reading, and is a poor reflection on the institutional Church.

    Bishop Taylor was much too much of gentleman to call Rome on its behaviour. I often wonder what would have happened if someone with the drive of an Archbishop Burke or a Cardinal Pell had been Chair of ICEL at the time. It is possible that things might have turned out rather differently.

  5. Lynne Gonzales Avatar
    Lynne Gonzales

    Thank you for posting this excerpt of Maurice Taylor’s book…it certainly demonstrates that “politics as usual” takes precedence over collegiality…

    Can’t find the book in any of my state’s libraries, including seminary libraries…not listed in Library of Congress, nor available thru Amazon.co.uk nor Amazon.com…I find this very sad. It would be wonderful if such a recently published book (November 2009) were to be republished so more of us had access to it…this is the type of information that the people in the pews have no knowledge of…neither do most of our clergy…

    1. Paul Inwood Avatar
      Paul Inwood

      Actually, this is the only chapter in the book that is worth reading, so I wouldn’t worry about trying to get hold of it. The rest of it is basic instructional stuff for parishioners. In the “cold wind” chapter, Taylor actually shows his emotional side.

    2. thomas taylor Avatar
      thomas taylor

      The book is available in the diocese of Galloway. If you would like information on how to obtain a copy I would be glad to help

  6. Jan Larson Avatar

    Control, secrecy, power grabs, blatant disrespect for the ministry of others, really dangerous hierarchs – and we’re supposed to get excited for the new translation?

  7. Jeffrey Pinyan Avatar

    Bp. Taylor has a valid point that Sacrosanctum Concilium 36 does NOT say that translations must be approved by the Holy See, only the extent of the use of the vernacular:

    36.3. These norms being observed, it is for the competent territorial ecclesiastical authority mentioned in Art. 22, 2, to decide whether, and to what extent, the vernacular language is to be used; their decrees are to be approved, that is, confirmed, by the Apostolic See. …

    36.4. Translations from the Latin text into the mother tongue intended for use in the liturgy must be approved by the competent territorial ecclesiastical authority mentioned above.

    Upon looking at the Latin of the motu proprio Sacram Liturgiam, it would appear the English translation he provides of article 9 is far more accurate than the English text available at the Vatican web site.

    The question then becomes, is Pope Paul VI’s interpretation of SC 36 legitimate as an act of his papal authority in these matters? Or, is it legitimate for him to have made this additional requirement, beyond what the Council Fathers agreed to?

  8. Jeffrey Pinyan Avatar

    Upon a little investigation, it appears that the Vatican’s English translation is based on the Latin text of Sacram Liturgiam as published in L’Osservatore Romano, not the version published in the A.A.S.:

    AAS: … opportunum ducimus significare, varias huiusmodi populares interpretationes, a competente auctoritate ecclesiastica territoriali conficiendas et approbandas esse, ad normam art. 36, §§ 3 et 4; acta vero huius auctoritatis, ad normam eiusdem art, 36, § 3, ab Apostolica Sede esse rite probanda seu confirmanda. Quod ut semper …

    OR: … opportunum ducimus significare varias huiusmodi populares interpretationes a competente auctoritate ecclesiastica territoriali propositas, ab Apostolica Sede de esse rite recognoscendas atque probandas. Quod ut semper …

    So now I’m curious: which came first, the O.R. text or the A.A.S. text? If the O.R. text came first, who edited it to add the “conflation” which Bp. Taylor points out? If the A.A.S. text came first, who was responsible for the error in it, and why was there an edited version published in the O.R. later?

    1. Edna Savage Avatar
      Edna Savage

      The official text is always the one published in AAS. OR is ‘only’ a newspaper.

      1. Jeffrey Pinyan Avatar

        Yes, I know the A.A.S. has the official text. But I’m curious why the official A.A.S. text (which has the anomaly mentioned by Bp. Taylor) differs from the L’OR text (which has no anomaly, simply a new practice introduced by the Pope). Also, which came first? Was the “official” text amended later and those changes were never actually made official? Or was the original document the one published in L’OR, and then it got poorly revised in its “official” version?

      2. Anthony Ruff, OSB Avatar
        Anthony Ruff, OSB

        I’ve encountered this before – sometimes they change official texts at the last minute. Imagine that! What other case of that do we know of?? In other cases it was either politics behind the scene – in one funny case at the end of the 19th century they printed two versions because an elderly cardinal would only see one of them and his feelings would be hurt if he knew the new document undid his work – or else it’s a mistake which they notice in their own work after they publish it. I don’t know why it happened here, but that it happened is nothing new for Rome. I think a Mediterranean mindset, plus a monarchical system of making decisions, is quite incomprehensible for us in the US, and oftentimes quite frustrating. It’s a real cultural gap.

      3. Edna Savage Avatar
        Edna Savage

        I’ve frequently noted that the AAS version may only appear months after the original document appears in LO or wherever else. We are asked to assume that this is, indeed, the official version.

  9. Jim McKay Avatar
    Jim McKay

    I remember a story about Pius IX discussing the Syllabus of Errors issued by him in 1864. He kept referring to one proposition until someone told him it was not in the Syllabus. Upon investigation, it was discovered that the Cardinal who carried it to the printer stopped off for coffee, and looked over the document during his break. He crossed out a few ‘duplicate’ propositions, leading to Pius’ confusion.

    I cannot vouch for the accuracy of this story, but it is a great parable on church authority.

  10. Paul Schlachter Avatar

    Bishop Taylor presents a thorough chronology of ICEL, for which we can be grateful. Recalling other histories, such as that of Msgr. Bugnini, the Vatican Congregation of Divine Worship and the Sacraments has always been hostile to reform and fought it every step of the way. In addition, this congregation could not have achieved its current domination over the standard setting and authorization processes unless it had the blessing and perhaps mandate of others closer to the top – from the head of CDF, in particular.

    There were other struggles during the 1990’s that Bishop Taylor does not mention. One that may now seem lodged in ancient history was the debate over inclusive language. Many of our bishops were willing to entertain it, but not the central institution. So how did “brothers and sisters” make the 1998 lectionary? Perhaps of its visibility in readings week after week, and the need to remain under the radar with central impositions.

    Which reminds me of another violation of the 2001 guidelines for translation. In the Lord’s Prayer, “debita nostra” is more literally translated as “our debts.” Could this be an example of the “Reformation constraint” that overrules “authentic” norms for the way we communicate internally with each other and with our Catholic God? Or, more likely, the standard setters are willing to make obvious exceptions to avoid ruffling feathers of every English-speaking man and woman. There’s a lesson in that.

    1. Jeffrey Pinyan Avatar

      Adoremus Bulletin has an article from October of 2001 which says, in part:

      ` In the light of the teaching of LA 41 that “…the words of the biblical passages commonly used in catechesis and in popular devotional prayers be maintained” and in keeping with the policies applied in editing Volume I, the Congregation has introduced changes “with due regard for the norm of fidelity to the original text” (LA 41) in employing the popular vocabulary of liturgical and devotional prayer in the scriptural passages. For example, the version of the Lord’s Prayer would retain the use of trespasses rather than debts. ‘

      So it would appear that because of the pedigree of the Scriptural translation of ‘debita’ as ‘trespasses’, the Our Father goes unchanged.

  11. Ambrose Walsh Avatar
    Ambrose Walsh

    In addition to Bishop Taylor’s book, read also a much fuller account given in the article, “Lost in Translation” by the former editor of the Tablet. It can be found in the on-line edition of Commonweal:

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