The Report – leaked

Pray Tell has obtained the report prepared for bishops’ Conferences to make them aware of the problems in the 2010 Received Text. (Who leaked it to us, you want to know? All we’ll say is, it’s either someone from the U.S. or from abroad.) The Received Text is the final version of the English missal approved by the CDW and presented to Pope Benedict on April 28, 2010, with a festive luncheon for the Vox Clara commission, officials of the CDW, and the Pope.

The Report goes on for dozens of pages. Thirteen chapters with titles like “Change of Meaning from the Latin Original” and “Mistranslation of the Latin” and “Additions of an Element Not Found in Latin” and “Omission of an Element Found in the Latin” and “Introduction of a Theological Problem” and “Difficulty with English Grammar or Usage.” The chapters have subheadings, and under the subheadings are lists documenting each instance of the problem.

The scope of the debacle is simply mind-boggling. A small sampling:

  • In 7 instances quaesumus (“we pray”) has not been translated.
  • In 19 instances “we pray” has been added to a text, even though there is no corresponding Latin verb (quaesumus, rogamus, etc.) in the prayer.
  • In 7 instances Latin verbs that designate God’s agency are not accounted for in the translation, though they are translated in the text approved by the Conference.
  • There are at least 8 occurrences in which words of deprecation in the Latin text that tell of our dependence on God’s mercy, graciousness, goodness and his divine condescension are not reflected in the translation.

And on and on.

This raises many questions.

  • Who did the revision?
  • When?
  • Starting from which national Conferences’ version(s)?
  • With how much competence in Latin?
  • Or English?
  • Or knowledge of Liturgiam authenticam?
  • Who told them to do all this?
  • Who is responsible that it got approved?
  • Will those people lacking the competence to do their job be removed from positions of responsibility (promoveatur ut amoveatur), for the good of the Church’s liturgy going forward?

Thankfully, the final text of the English missal is undergoing further revision in Rome. We don’t yet know whether the revisions are minor touchups merely to prevent the worst howls of objection, or a fundamental reworking that gets to the heart of the problem and offers a truly excellent product to the English-speaking church.

As Bishop Dunn has shown in his careful canonical analysis, the Holy See does not have the authority to impose a liturgical text upon national Conferences, and Conferences are not bound to implement a text they did not approve. Will the Bishops and the Conferences rise to their responsibility? Will the Bishops and the Conferences ensure that the really-final final revision is acceptable before they implement it?

Granted, we’re not in German or Austria or Switzerland, where the Bishops recently withdrew a newly-translated liturgical book which Rome had approved, and where the Bishops are insisting that they decide how things are expressed in German. But still. Surely our Bishops care deeply about the sacred liturgy. Surely they want an excellent translation, faithful to the Latin and expressed in beautiful English, an enduring treasury of prayer which will contribute to a real spiritual renewal of their people. If nothing else, one would think that the Bishops don’t want the hassle of having to defend a defective text to their already skeptical priests and people, come Advent 2011.

I’m praying about all this, as I’m sure you are. Maybe it’s foolhardy, but I’m praying with the confident hope that good people will do the right thing. And that the full truth will come out, for the good of the Church.



76 thoughts on “The Report – leaked

  1. From what you write, it sounds like someone who wants to blend “Comme Le Prevoit” with “Liturgiam Authenticum.” In terms of interpreting these two documents, are the ones doing this trying to placate the “Come Le Prevoit” school of translating? I suspect even at the Vatican there might be two camps. But I’m glad that the concern is that the translator (s) doing this aren’t being faithful to “Liturgiam Authenicum.” to which they should be slavishly faithful. So it must be someone in the “Comme Le Prevoit” camp rocking the boat as a final gesture of contempt?

    1. Like Fr. Mc.Donald, I’m trying to figure out just what the rationale behind this could be. A mix of CLP and LA, as he suggests, sounds plausible – perhaps someone thought that they’d ompromise and everyone would be happy. But they miscalculated – the likely effect is that no one is happy.

      Muddying the waters is the fact that the revision, in places, makes the text more antiquated or fussy – so you’re left scratching your head trying to figure out what coherent plan there is. But maybe this also is a sign of compromise – throwing a bone here and there to the wishes of one of the revisers? I really don’t know, and I can only speculate.


      1. I am so glad that there seems to be something seems to being done. What I have heard of the new translation makes me cringe. The flowery language I found distracting. I have tried listening to Fr Jeremy Driscoll OSB on a podcast but he has not really changed my mind about the new translation.
        I have no knowledge of Latin and do not really understand the need to have a slavish, almost word for word, translation if it does not make sense to the average Catholic.
        I would be interested to see whether the Bishops of England and Wales would be brave enough to follow their German, Austrian and Swiss brothers!

  2. “As Bishop Dunn has shown in his careful canonical analysis, the Holy See does not have the authority to impose a liturgical text upon national Conferences, and Conferences are not bound to implement a text they did not approve.”

    Two words: Quo Primum.

    1. Cody;

      How then does one explain LA 104:

      “104. For the good of the faithful, the Holy See reserves to itself the right to prepare translations in any language, and to approve them for liturgical use.[74] Nevertheless, even if the Apostolic See, by means of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, may intervene from time to time out of necessity in the preparation of translations, it still belongs to the competent Conference of Bishops to approve their assumption into liturgical use within the boundaries of a given ecclesiastical territory, unless otherwise explicitly indicated in the decree of approbation of the translation promulgated by the Apostolic See. Afterwards, for the purpose of obtaining the recognitio of the Holy See, the Conference shall transmit the decree of approbation for its territory together with the text itself, in accordance with the norms of this Instruction and of the other requirements of the law.”

      The emphasized sections are difficult to get past without claiming that there are succesive documents that have abrogated these specific parts of the document, which are by all counts part of the law concerning translations and how they are handled (specifically). In other words, this instruction would override more general applications of the power of Bishops and Bishops conferences.

      1. let me encourage you all to full disclosure! Secrecy has been one of the most poisonous features of this whole process.

  3. Why “be slavishly faithful” to a seriously flawed document like “Liturgiam Authenticam?” This document, produced hurriedly and with little consultation, seems to be at the root of this whole mess (not forgetting, of course, the power grabs and secrecy throughout the process).

  4. Why be faithful to LA?

    Because of the way LA ends:

    “After the preparation of this Instruction by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments in virtue of the mandate of the Supreme Pontiff transmitted in a letter of the Cardinal Secretary of State dated 1 February 1997 (Prot. n. 408.304), the same Supreme Pontiff, in an audience granted to the Cardinal Secretary of State on 20 March 2001, approved this Instruction and confirmed it by his own authority, ordering that it be published, and that it enter into force on the 25th day of April of the same year.”

    That’s why.

    1. Jeremy, it’s always more complicated than blind obedience.

      Sometimes the pope is badly advised and does make mistakes in the approval he gives to the work of others. According to experts LA is flawed in its presentation and understanding of history, theology and linguistics. By any measure it is therefore an embarrassment to the Holy See and should be revised.

      1. Obedience is a virtue only if we have some grounds for trusting the wisdom and appropriateness of what we are being mandated to do. That the ‘Supreme Pontiff’ has authorised something is at best prima facie evidence of this–there are enough problems with LA to suggest that resistance is the proper response.

  5. Not to speak for the Father, since I don’t know Fr Ruff personally, but I don’t at all get the sense that he and the writers he publishes here are into “resistance” to official directives that some people dont agree with and that other people just as intelligent it seems to me do agree with. I could be completely wrong but I think Fr Ruff accepts that LA is right now the law of the land so to speak and that it’s been ignored by some of the 2010 changes is only part of the problem along with out and out wrong translations and mistakes in basic English. I don’t get that Fr Ruff is against LA or a new translation at all. I kind of think if he was into “resistance” he wouldn’t have gone to all this trouble and taken all the grief he’s getting here and on other blogs. He would have just let the missal with all the mistakes be published. I think he really wants a good missal without mistakes to come out. Seems that way to me anyhow.

  6. Fr. Endean,

    Speaking as a pew potato, those grounds for trust are pretty shaky these days, and I think your comments are spot on.

    Over time, it has seemed to me that the folks who are most strident about authority and the obligation to obey it, are the ones who are on the least certain ground. The authorities who may on some level understand they are not on solid ground, or the [in this case] lay people who beat others up telling them to obey ‘because Rome said so’, both sometimes seem as if they’re trying to convince themselves more than me.

    It doesn’t work, this sort of beating up on people.

      1. Actually, more reminiscent of John Courtney Murray, who was ultimately vindicated by the Second Vatican Council (thanks to a US bishop who stood up for him, Cardinal Spellman).

      2. maybe–but there just have to be limits on the extent to which external authority can demand obedience. I am no Lefebvrist, but my disagreement with that group is about the judgments its members make, not about their right and duty to make them.

  7. Sounds like it could be just a final proofreading of the translation?

    The simplest errors in documents, like telephone numbers and addresses are difficult to discover. The mind plays tricks.

    1. You might want to read the Xavier Rinfliesch articles posted on here. One document went over (2008) and something very different came back (2010). It’s not just typo stuff but mistranslations from Latin and too many mistakes in English grammar to be an accident. To me it’s a pretty convincing argument for the incompetence of Vox Clara who made the suggestions and the Congregation for Worship that approved them according to Mgr Maroney.

  8. Whatever you think of Liturgiam Authenticam — and I don’t think much of it — it seems clear that the creators of this latest revision have felt entirely free to flout its principles.

    What does this do for catechesis about the new translation? At one point you could claim that the clunky language of the new text was a result of adherence to the “formal equivalence” principles of LA. That dodge won’t work any longer. The language of the new text is worse than that of the 2008 and it breaks “formal equivalence” in many places.

    Just have to hope that nobody in the congregation knows any Latin …

  9. If it’s OK to set ‘formal equivalence’ aside (though I really think the formal/dynamic distinction is unhelpful and has been pushed far too far by both sides in the discussion), then there is no basis for 1998 to have been rejected wholesale–and indeed we might as well stay with 1973.

      1. +JMJ+

        An unimproved Ordinary for the congregation? An over-zealous reordering of the Missal? Inclusive language?

        Or is the question — and I don’t think I’ve ever seen it phrases quite this way on PTB — why was the 1998 translation not taken as a starting point for the translation of the 3rd edition?

  10. Mr. J. Stevens is correct. Fr. Ruff and his colleagues should be commended for their effort to provide an unbiased analysis to this developing crisis.

    The issue of LA, as settled “law”, is decided until the issue is revisisted.

    The issue of Vatican primacy versus national conferences is decided (no matter how many Canon leagal experts dance on the head of a pin). (Out of my field but Gallicanism was finally settled in the mid-19th C.)

    The ONLY issue is how do we received the “best” translation of the JPII Missal and LEAD the American Church forward. How do we revitalized, invorgorate the Liturgy and the faithful?

    YIC, Ken

    The seminarians/students who tried to worked through the 2008 text to develop a more colloquail (spoken) English where totally unprepared for the task. ICEL should have been given the task and specific instructions from CDW rather than Vox Clara

    1. Just one point about this fine comment.

      I have the impression that Vatican primacy and national conferences is very much not settled and still in flux. Vatican II introduced a decentralizing element, but left the power of the pope untouched. Since Vatican II we’ve seen the relationship change quite a bit, mostly because the Vatican has issued new directives and laws and documents giving itself more power.

      The issue is discussed a lot by ecclesiologists. The recent RC-Orthodox dialogue in the US called for much greater synodal and regional power – ie, decentralization – in the RC church for the sake of RC-Orth ecumenism.

      How it will continue to develop, I can’t predict.


  11. I agree interpreting VII will continue for several hundred years.

    The “Vatican” perspective is that the College of Bishops and the College of Cardinales were given the authority to over rule the dicasteries rather than the national conferences. This “new” concept was initiated by Pius XII and included in the VII Constitution.

    National conference issues have hurt the Church since the Counter-Reformation period.


    1. “National conference issues have hurt the Church since the Counter-Reformation period.”

      Especially when the Roman Curia has overstepped its boundaries. I don’t believe any national conference today truly misunderstands its legitimate role. I do know that the Roman Curia continues to demonstrate that it sometimes does. This is an old, old problem.

      The “new” concept vis-a-vis Pius XII and VII was a recognition of a “new” situation (not really that new at all in some ways), and of course should be retained and developed so as to become an optimal way for a nation’s bishops en masse to collaborate effectively with the Roman Curia, and vice-versa. Individual bishops will always retain the right to work directly with the Holy See, and this is at it should be.

      This situation should not be seen as a “zero-sum” matter or an “either-or” challenge.

  12. Pace Jeremy’s assertion in #10, LA is not settled law. The Pope affirmed it only in forma generica. Our bishops failed to challenge LA’s legitimacy and they failed to challenge Rome’s prior refusal to confirm the 1998 translation; thus we are in the mess we’re in.

    As John Huels wrote in 2007: “Note that instructions are regularly approved by the pope, but approved precisely as an instruction, as a document of executive power. It is only approval in forma specifica (which is rare) that elevates a document of executive power to a legislative text. Regarding instructions, only one so far has received such specific papal approval, the 1997 instruction on the collaboration of the lay faithful in the ministry of priests.”

    1. What a fantastic question!

      As I understand it, the New Zealanders plan to use the ‘new’ Order of Mass to start with, and of course the ‘10,000 changes’ don’t all apply there, but mostly to the orations, prefaces etc, which they’re not going to use yet, but implement gradually (which is just as well, given the news that the Congregation is going to impolement ‘some but not all’ of ICEL’s requested changes to 2010) . . . so they’ll be using a hybrid of the Mass of Paul VI and that of Benedict XVI (or John Paul II, depending on how you calculate these things).

      However, there ARE some rubrical differences between 2008 and 2010 in the Order of Mass, and it remains to be seen, for instance, whether the clergy of New Zealand bow (2008) or bend (2010).

      To complicate things even more, I understood the New Zealanders were hoping to get approval from the Congregation to print the Mass texts side-by-side in both English and Maori (the two official languages of NZ) in time for the implementation date of 28 November, and there are probably not too many Maori speakers in the Congregation, to check and approve the draft Maori translation.

      The Kiwis might end up with a lot of spare paper in which they can wrap their fush and chups.

      1. Chris, I take your point about the prefaces, but the instructions specifically say that the new tesxts are to be introduced on Advent Sunday 2010 for
        •the greetings and responses at the beginning of Mass.
        •the texts of the Penitential Act.
        •the Gloria.
        •the Creed.
        the prayers and responses during the Liturgy of the Word.
        •all the dialogues between the Priest and the Assembly during the Liturgy of the Eucharist.
        •the Holy, Holy.
        •the Memorial Acclamations.
        •the Doxology.
        all the prayers and responses of the Priest, Deacon and Assembly from the Communion Rite to the Concluding Rites.
        •those gestures and postures required by the accompanying rubrics and/or the relevant sections of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal.
        [my emphasis].
        Which would seem to indicate that the Collect/opening prayer [and the collects in the Easter Vigil and Good Friday Liturgy] and the Post-communion prayer are to be the new texts, biuty not the prayer over the gifts/offertory prayer, preface or eucharistic prayers.

        For the musical texts they have put up the USCCB texts, last revised in August.

  13. John Henley, I don’t think the Collect/opening prayer happens during the Liturgy of the Word, but I suppose the New Zealanders can use whatever version they want. Which will probably be the end result of this mess everywhere, anyway!

    I doubt the New Zealanders would’ve made the Advent 2010 announcement if they’d been aware of the 10,000 2008/2010 differences, and given all the imponderables, I wouldn’t be surprised if they, er ‘fine tuned’ things between now and Advent.

    I suppose we’ll know the detailed answers in four weeks!

  14. “Will the Bishops and the Conferences rise to their responsibility? ”

    If the Bishops and Conferences had risen to their responsibilities when Vatican officials started this process, we wouldn’t be where we are today! My understanding is that the Bishops found the entire issue of the translation so boring they basically washed their hands of it and went along with whatever came out of Rome. This applies to all the Bishops of the English speaking conferences, not just the Americans.

    1. You are correct…but they are going to be terribly sorry the First Sunday of Advent. Major damage control.

    2. Can you back your understanding up with some evidence, especially any quote or report that bishops found this process boring? I too wish our bishops had been more proactive in defending their turf, but to accuse them of disinterest is a much stronger charge.

  15. Speaking of official Roman documents that that inforce matters relating to language, I have fond memories of John XXIII’s 1962 Veterum Sapientia, on the promotion of the study of Latin – an Apostolic Constitution no less. This Constitution requires, for example, that theology teachers know how to speak Latin, and that textbooks must be in Latin. Never was an Apostolic Constitution so ignored.

  16. The issue with national conferences is that they believe they have a better Message than the Vatican. They want to from their unique variation of the Catholic Church. This was a problem for St. Paul, for 400 years of Gallican problems, and now for the American Church.

    About 40% of the USCCB voting bishops have repeatedly demonstrated this belief in their public votes at the semi-annual conferences. CDW does not “trust” (wrong word, but it is very late) the USCCB to follow Vatican leadership.

    This conflict is the real issue that is being debated under the guise of the translation of the JPII Missal.

    We need strong leadership from the USCCB and CDW to resolve this debate. I trust that B16 will resovle the issue in the absence of leadership. The result will be a fractured American Church. The Roman Church will prevail.

    YIC, Ken

    1. Please define “prevail”? Does everything have to be viewed in terms of a struggle? Shouldn’t both the USCCB, CDW, and the Holy Father be working towards the same end, the spiritual well being of souls? How do the power plays and maneuvers that have been going on with regards to this issue fit within the context of the Gospel reading for today?

    2. “The issue with national conferences is that they believe they have a better Message than the Vatican. They want to from their unique variation of the Catholic Church.”

      That’s a pretty bold assertion. What is your source here? If your claim were so, you’d think the Vatican would have closed the conferences down by now. Of course, some will continue to hope…

      And I don’t know to what you are referring with your 40% claim. Seems to me like the votes have been pretty decided on most issues, and not that many issues are related to Rome anyway. And in the case of MR3, most of the votes were well-decided, and few issues beyond those represented by a select few brave souls were even raised. If MR3 suggests anything, it’s that the conference tends to take things rather lying down.

      In any case, if any church is to “prevail”, let it be the “one, holy, catholic and apostolic” one we profess each Sunday, and which is fortunately confined neither to America, nor to Rome.

      1. That’s a pretty bold assertion. What is your source here?

        Umm… perhaps “observation” would be a credible source?

        If your claim were so, you’d think the Vatican would have closed the conferences down by now.

        Again… Ummm… I would like to admit the current translation process into evidence, Your Honor…

      2. Too bad neither of your snarky assertions supply what I asked for, and asked for from Ken Ray, not from you.

        First, as a careful observer, I can say that rarely does anything pass the USCCB by a 60-40 percentage margin, except perhaps for these Missal texts. But this does not prove the assertion that the USCCB wants to create an “American” Catholic Church independent from Rome.

        Second, the USCCB, for what value it may or may not serve, has not been shut down, but only bullied by the Curia. Nothing new here.

      3. My apologies Mr. Podrebarac;

        I wasn’t aware you were engaged in a private conversation here. And since when is it “snarky” to state the obvious? You actually need a “source” to figure out that the USCCB is bent on creating an “American Catholic Church”? Like a poll, or perhaps a study from the Theological Studies Department at some major Catholic University? If that’s the case, I wish you luck!

      4. No, it’s not a private conversation. I was just asking Mr. Ray to back up what he said with some fact. Below, he did that to a certain degree, and I respect his point-of-view, even if I don’t personally agree with his conclusion.

        No, I don’t need a poll or a study. But neither do I need the same old tired rhetoric and baseless accusations, ad hominem attacks, etc. that come from some folks ad nauseam.

        Neither of your assertions are either obvious or helpful, and neither necessarily advance your position or weaken mine. Sorry.

  17. Agree with Jeff’s comments. Also, your footnote on Paul could be taken two ways – Paul, himself, continued his outreach to the Gentiles despite strong feelings/votes by the Jewish-Christian followers/leaders at Antioch.

    What is the JPII Missal – never have heard of that – sounds like something from EWTN?

    You seem to be totally unaware of the history of the contant tension between papacy, curia, and the bishops of the world – you can find evidence of this in almost every historical period and issue in the western church.

    Your comments also do not take into account the eastern church; the various Rites; the separated churches.

    Finally, any study of the last two hundred years would show a shift and “over-centralization” of power into the papacy (at times the curia) which is all out of proportion to what occurred in the church (East and West) for 1700 years. You clearly weigh in on the papacy as the ultimate authority/power – not sure that canon law; VII documents, or even the tradition of church theology would define the papacy and its authority the way you choose to do so.

    “I trust that B16 will resolve the issue in the absence of leadership” – not sure what you are referring to? In terms of MR3, we have had leadership (small group of curia, Vox Clara; agree that we have seen multiple conferrences esp. USCCB provide an :”absence” of leadership in terms of liturgy esp. since 1996 i.e George.

    fracture? unity is not uniformity

  18. Always an interesting discussion.

    The vehemence with which many have opposed the translation of the John Paul II Missal (MR3) is sufficient evidence of the continueing conflict between the USCCB and the Vatican. The issues that USCCB has continued to raise for almost fifteen years are often word choice rather substantive translation. The underlying issue is who has the authority. The debate concerning translation technique is the best example. While LA has many flaws, the technique it fosters leads to a more consistent translation.

    The 40% reference was to the votes on the translation books submitted in 2008, 2009. The votes until last (2010) spring were often very close. The vocal group in opposition lead by Cardinal Mahoney and Bishop Trautman were finally clear last spring, when in Bishop Trautman’s final speech against the translation he asserted that the Vatican did not have the authority to direct a translation.

    The reference to St. Paul was conerning his continueing battle with “experts” from Jerusalem. Paul’s actions was to resolve the issue and then to lead. The USCCB leadership needs to resolve the issue(s).

    The constant tension between the Curia and the national conferences is my point. The issue is why has the translation taken so long to resolve. If there were clear leadership this issue would never have evolved.

    Yes, the teaching authority of the Pope in council with his bishops is the final authority on Earth.

    YIC, Ken

    1. Thanks, Ken, for the explanation of your “40%” point above. I still don’t believe this proves a determination on the part of those bishops to create an independent American Catholic church, but I respect your argument nonetheless.

      I do believe that those “40%” bishops truly want what’s best for the people they serve. It’s not that I don’t believe the same thing about the Curia. But I cannot help but wonder how they, in the face of serious and respectful argument to the contrary, could blithely think this process has been justly carried out.

  19. In council – nothing you have referenced was done by a pope in council with his bishops. JPII and B16 have never operated as popes in a council.

    As a teacher said: The church is not the hierarchy. You have turned the church upside down – you have the papacy on top – all baptized are the circle within which we have offices and ministries.

  20. You have turned the church upside down – you have the papacy on top – all baptized are the circle within which we have offices and ministries

    That’s all hopeful and pleasant to claim that it is so…. I think you would find a substantial variance of opinion about such a view. It’s much like the Libertarian claim that the Government and politicians “work for us” because it is our tax dollars that pay them, or because we elect them. It’s all and well as a slogan, but it isn’t descriptive of either history or present reality.

    Another way to look at it…. would you be Catholic without the Church (Meaning the Hierarchy)? If so, then why even be concerned about what it says or does? Why not just say your own Mass every day and go about your business? Why all this debate and discussion if “We are the Church”? Just declare the translation you want as the one you will use, have it published and use it to say your Masses.

    I’m trying not to sound crass here, but I mean really…. claiming that the Papacy is at the “bottom” and that we (the baptized laity) are actually at the top is both naiive and counter to the reality of the Church and her history. As a prof of mine used to say about such things “It just ain’t so, even if you can find it in a book”

  21. But Jeffrey, shouldn’t the pope be what he claims to be, “servant of the servants of God”, “working for us”? Or is servus servorum Dei just another empty, meaningless “slogan” by which the papacy and “official” Catholicism in our time are ridiculed as hypocritical, long on words but very short on practice?

    Surely the Church should turn the normal hierarchical values of the world upside down? Otherwise, are we not yet just another worldly institution, a beacon to none but those who value power, prestige and pomp ?

  22. Graham…

    Yes, and I would say that the Pope is very much that! Just as parents should be compassionate and loving toward their children… by guiding them toward the truth, often requiring discipline and an occasional “hands on” approach. Although the parent would give their life for their children, I think you would be hard pressed to claim that means that the children are in charge. You are right that the Pope is the Servant of All…. but “working for us”?? Not so much… that’s wishful thinking at best, and a misguided image of the Church at worst.

    1. I think it is telling that you revert to parent-child imagery to describe how the Pope relates to the Church. Aren’t we all adults? Aren’t we all disciples of Christ? That doesn’t mean that we all have equal authority – I don’t deny that the Pope has his unique authority – but I don’t think we adult disciples should relate to him only as children. By analogy, parishioners call their pastor “Father” (I know they don’t in many parts of the Catholic world, but let it pass for now), but no competent pastor would relate to his staff or parish council or liturgy committee or any other adult in the parish in the manner of father to children.


    2. My understanding is that the laity are not part of the hierarchy, the part of canon law which deals with people who are in sacred orders. We are neither at the bottom of the hierarchy nor at the top of an inverted pyramid.

      Yes, those who are in sacred orders are there more to serve us than we are to serve them in particular (we have a lot of other people to whom we are more directly responsible to render service, e.g families, workplace, community, country, etc.). We are not there anymore to control the hierarchy than they are there to control us in the manner of a corporation.

      Even thought the corporate world has adopted the word hierarchy to describe its structure, our structure is nothing like their structure, except to the degree that we have often adopted the worse features of corporate structures with pastors and bishops becoming CEOs.

      The old structures of corporation management may have looked a lot like the relationships among people in our clerical management structure, but even there I think there are some major differences.

  23. I get lost in the discussion when the idea of the “teaching authority” of the Pope in Council seems to be rejected or lost.

    If one rejects or challenges this fundamental concept how does one remain in communion with the Church? Without this essential idea the Church would fragment until each individual was the authority. This cannot be correct; it rejects the physical nature of Christ on Earth in the Church.

    “One, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church”: apostolic implies juridical which means there is structured teaching authority. The Church Fathers codified this concept before the 5th C.

    YIC, Ken

    1. Wow. Where to start with a comment like this?

      1. No one has rejected or challenged the teaching authority that I’ve seen. What are you responding to? Lots of people here talk a lot about how that authority should be exercised – probably because that has been changing for 2,000 years and will continue to. Or do you hope to shut down the discussion and freeze all the structures in time starting now?

      2. Are you really accusing other Catholics of not being in communion with the Church? That’s pretty heavy. Keep that up and you’ll land in the SPAM box of this blog.

      3. The “physical” presence of Christ on earth in the Church – huh? We don’t even believe that about the Real Presence in the Eucharist – surely we don’t believe it about his presence in the Church!? (Hint: he’s now resurrected.)


  24. #2. No, I’m asking a pointed socratic question.

    #1. The Church is living, adapting, but unchanging in the essential. If the teaching authority is not being questioned, then the contention is between what entities?

    #3. I’m really missing your point. The Church is the physical body of Christ (St. Paul, Pius XII )

    #3. There many Eucharistic miracles that demonstrate the physical presence Christ.

    I’ll just observe for awhile to try to better understand the issue being debated.

    YIC, Ken

  25. As a lay person working in the church who has responsibilities, I feel my authority is backed by two things… 1) My boss (ie, the pastor), and 2) My actual service to the parish (the sum total of the fruit of my labors, in other words). My pastor’s authority comes from both his boss (the bishop) and his service to the faithful. Trace it back to the Holy Father, back to Peter, and to Christ, whose authority came from not only the fact that he was the Son of God and his lineage to David, but also his ministry on earth(note that he demonstrated his knowledge of scripture, he was a great preacher, he cared for those in need, the poor, the lowly). No doubt his divine nature gave him an advantage over us mere men and women. But even for God incarnate, it wasn’t enough for him to declare his authority, he had to show it (probably important for us to consider how Christ demonstrated his authority). Like many things in the Catholic faith, two concepts that appear to be contradictory are actually complimentary, and when operating in balance, allow the Church to thrive.

  26. The physical and divine natures of the body of Christ extend to the Church. The “mystical body of Christ” is physically present in the Church born on the Cross.
    Eph 1:22 . . . to the church, which is his body . . . .
    Eph 5:30 . . . we are members of his body . . . .
    Col 1: 18 . . . He is the head of the body, the church . . . .
    Col 1:24 . . . his body, which is the church . . . .
    1Cor 12:13 . . . For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body . . . .

    Pius XII, “Mystici Corporis Christi”: “He instituted the two sacraments of incorporation into His Body by baptism and of conservation in that Body through the Holy Eucharist.” (AAS, vol 35, p. 204)

    Eugene IV, “The Decretum pro Armenis” (D 696): “Through it we are made members of Christ and compacted into the body of the Church.”

    This is not my field (I study Inter-Testament Proto-Christian Theology among other things), but this was what I was considering.


    1. So, none of your sources use “physical,” but you’re still using it, I see- which is pretty important for this particular doctrinal issue.

      1. So Anthony, when I listen at the tabernacle door, are you saying it’s MY breathing I hear?

  27. The concept of “anima” was well developed in both Greek and Hebrew philosophy by the 1st C. If Paul had been writing in a metaphysical sense he would have used different words. The Fathers of the Church followed Paul’s lead.

    The Scholastics and Neo-Scholastics expressed what you seem be questioning, that Real Presence is not the physical body and by extension the mystical body of Christ (in the Church) is not the physical body. I do not see this Thomistic perspective in Pius XII writings.

    But, I’m open to other points of view for discussion. I’ll do some research this afternoon.


  28. You’re losing me. Are you saying in the second paragraph that according to the Scholastics, Real Presence is not physical body? Or are you accusing me of holding that, contrary to you and the Scholastics. Your writing is hard to follow.

  29. Response: First, I’m not accusing you or anyone else of anything. I thought this was an academic exercise to increase our understanding.

    “3. The “physical” presence of Christ on earth in the Church – huh? We don’t even believe that about the Real Presence in the Eucharist – surely we don’t believe it about his presence in the Church!? (Hint: he’s now resurrected.)”

    I do not understand the differentiation between the concepts of “Real Presence” and physical presence. Augustine stressed the symbolic nature of the Eucharistic. He was corrected by the Church Fathers who taught a literal understanding of the Jesus’ words of Institution. Thomas stressed the concept of “real presence” but did not address the physical presence. Bellarmine pulled the two ideas together to explain transubstantiation (and Eucharistic miracles). Pius XII developed the complete theology uniting Tradition, Augustinian, and Thomistic concepts in terms of Bellarmine’s teaching. Pius XII’s teaching is that the Church has the two natures of Christ and that the “mystical body of Christ” physicality is the Church militant.

    What am I missing?


    PS: My notes are drafted in a different language and translated into English. I need the practice.


    1. Ken Ray wrote: “I do not understand the differentiation between the concepts of ‘Real Presence’ and physical presence. ”

      With all due respect, I think you need to study up on the theological basics. Don’t misunderstand – but a blog is not the proper medium to convey to you or anyone else the basics of sacramental theology. I think you’ll want to know why “physical” is the wrong word before you come into a theological discussion like this.


      1. John 16:6-7 “Because I have aid these things to you, sorrow has filled your hearts. Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.”

        Ken: your meaning diverges on a number of terms. One is this: there is a difference between the “physical” body Jesus had (was) before the resurrection/ascension, on the one hand, and the “physical” properties of the Body of Christ on the other. The Catholic way is to think that we are temples of the Holy Spirit, whom we receive in various ways (including Baptism and Communion), and which teams up with our own souls to make us members of the Body of Christ. Yes, we have physical bodies, but those are not the same physical body Jesus had, obviously. In the way of mystery, the Spirit of Jesus becomes one with the part of us called our souls, without eradicating them, and thus makes us wholly members of the new Body of Christ (except for sin). Another: Thomas explained transubstantiation precisely in order to show that Christ’s real presence in the bread and wine still had the physical appearance of bread and wine. As per Anthony’s advice, I hope you find solace in researching this topic.

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