Who leaked the Internal Report?

The bombshell fell October 31, 2010, 8:31 am (Collegeville time). I suppose some might make the connection to Martin Luther’s 95 Theses on October 31, but in all honesty I didn’t have that in mind. I said a brief prayer, made the Sign of the Cross, and hit PUBLISH. Then my heart started pounding, and I closed my eyes and said a Hail Mary. I had in mind serving the Church by bringing the truth to light. More truth and light were to follow – NCR published reports here and here on the “missal mess” and the internal report “Areas of Difficulty in the Received Text of the Missal.”

And now the “Witch Hunt” (the term used by an insider) is on. WHO leaked the internal report?, they want to know. People are being questioned. The leak must be plugged.

May I gently suggest that this is the wrong question?

If we learned anything from the last round of scandals, it’s that blaming the messenger and trying to push the truth, like toothpaste, back into the tube doesn’t work. It makes us look stupid.

The question is not how to go backward and plug what leaked a couple weeks ago. The question is what to do in the coming weeks as the truth continues to leak out.

And the truth is this: the Roman missal, English edition, got hijacked in a case of bad judgment, abuse of power, and incompetence.

In sensitive matters, it is claimed, secrecy and confidentiality are essential. One thinks of the recent Wikileaks controversy, and the need for tight security in the war on terror. Same with the translation of the missal, right? The comparison holds up best if the Holy See thinks the laity out in the general public are the enemy in this war. Or are the laity the population to be protected from the attacks of individuals within the translation machinery?

I ran into Msgr. James Moroney in early morning, last July 7, on the sidewalk at Mundelein Seminary. We were both there for the 10th anniversary of the Mundelein Liturgical Institute (where I was on the faculty in the founding year). Jim was his usual friendly, likable, and outgoing self. He had a copy of the Received Text, and he handled it like a prized trophy, or perhaps a beloved first-born baby. “They got it right, Anthony,” he beamed. “The Holy See drew together the very best people in all the needed fields, and starting last September, they got the text right.” I just about blurted out, “Then how come the final text is such an incoherent mess?”, but bit my lip. Jim continued, “As I go around making presentations, I can stand behind this text with no hesitation whatsoever.” “We shall see,” I thought to myself.

And now we all would very much like to know who these experts were and how they went about their work. A little bit of elevated language here (“beseech,” “laud,” “suffer not”), a little bit of colloquial 1973 there, a little bit of text not in the Latin here, a little bit of Latin left out there. Identical Latin text translated one way here, another way there.

Did they roll dice? Did they take turns around the table, with one person as the Elevater, one as the Colloquializer, one as the Adder, one as the Subtracter, one as the Mixer?

Then there are the conspiracy theories, some of which, as to be expected in such a bizarre story, get pretty bizarre. Did they set out to derail the unpopular missal for the good of the Church by guaranteeing its rejection? Did they intentionally propose a lousy version so that the 2008 text approved by the bishops could then be reintroduced to general acclaim and relief? (This reminds me of the theory that President Bush nominated Harriet Miers for Supreme Court knowing she would sink, so that he could then nominate the right-wing white male he really wanted.) Did someone seek to rise in the hierarchy by getting into the text all the failed amendments individual bishops had submitted much earlier in the process?

The hijacking of the Roman missal, English edition, is the strangest thing I have ever seen in all my years of church ministry. I’m not surprised that it elicits strange conspiracy theories.

It also elicits leaks. How could it not?

Think of all the people with a stake in this, all the people who have seen the texts. The Vatican officials, their staff, their friends, the Vox Clara members, their staff and friends, the translators, the consultants, the national conferences and their staff, the individual bishops and their advisors and staff and friends, and on and on.

Think of all the feelings among these people: shock, concern, disbelief, outrage, resentment, discouragement, fear, disgust, anger, …

All this is dry tinder waiting to burst into flames.

Did Moroney’s “experts” really think they would get away with this? Did the Vatican officials who approved the text (and remember, it is they and not Vox Clara who grant recognitio) think that no one would notice?

I fear that the good people at ICEL will take a hit (yet again). Gotta blame someone, they’re a handy target. Let’s punish whoever produced the internal report for disobedience, rather than praise them for competence and honesty. (A certain cardinal once called down the wrath of God upon the Boston Globe for bringing out the truth. It turned out not to be an effective move.)

If only there had been no internal report, officialdom wants to believe, if only there had been no leaks, if only no one would have reported the leaks, this would have worked. And when the missals arrived in the mail… no one would have noticed. Yeah, right.

For the record: no one at ICEL leaked the internal report to me. These are people of integrity and great loyalty to the Church, and I can’t imagine any of them leaking anything to anyone. The report was leaked to me by an intermediary with no connection to ICEL, and I will carry to my grave the name of this person without divulging it. My intermediary likewise refuses to divulge to me who his source is.

For the record: I am not Xavier Rindfleisch. One obvious giveaway: he likes the 2008 text more than I do, much as I want a new translation which is accurate and beautiful. I will carry to my grave… (you know the rest). He came to me with his leaked information and his series of articles, and I do not know who his source is.

Why the secrecy, why the anonymity, some will object. Couldn’t agree more. Let’s have a Church, I say, where people can speak up freely without losing their job or their priestly faculties or their speaking invitations in dioceses. Let’s have, from the top all the way down, transparency and honesty and competence and fairness. Until we have that, alas, there will be pseudonyms and anonymity and leaks from unknown sources. May all the critics of this join me in calling for a structural reform of our Church making it possible for everyone to speak in his own name.

What now? Don’t know. More leaks, probably. Frantic efforts, probably, to assure everyone that it is only 9,993 changes to the 2008 text, not more than 10,000: the blogs have it all wrong, ignore them. Frantic efforts to highlight that this or that little inaccuracy in the blogs’ reportage (this from people who won’t give us accurate information in the first place): ignore, therefore, the 99.3 % of blog reporting which is accurate. Frantic efforts to assure us that the Congregation has fixed at least a quarter or a third of the problems: everything is under control.

Implementation of the missal will probably go forward – maybe on schedule, maybe with delays. Meanwhile, some of the Church officials have white patches all over their fingers – from trying to push the toothpaste back in. This will hardly help them implement the missal successfully.

Godfrey, Virgil, Pius, Lambert, Justine, Prosper, all you holy men and women: pray for us.



69 responses to “Who leaked the Internal Report?”

  1. C Henry Edwards Avatar
    C Henry Edwards

    “Did they intentionally propose a wretched version so that the 2008 text approved by the bishops could then be reintroduced to general acclaim and relief? “

    But could this nevertheless be the result, however unintended. Really, what would be a more sensible solution to the current problem?

    1. Fr. Allan J. McDonald Avatar

      If so Henry, it would be a stroke of genius albeit perhaps unintended!

  2. Jeffrey Herbert Avatar

    Fr. Ruff;

    Looking at the timeline, the specific circumstances of anonymity (a double-blind: we don’t know your source and you don’t know his source), the impact of the material, the lack of any acknowledgment from any independednt sources that such a report has been received by CDW or Holy See and that it is being considered (the fact that something is being considered or that some report is being taken under counsel is not the same thing)… all of this has very strong indications that either a) someone is being played from above in a much larger game – or – b) someone is being played from below to make it appear like “a” is true.

    I am reminded of something said by James Carville concerning the leaks in the Valerie Plame case – “Leaks are always done on purpose… there’s no other reason to make them than to gain something for yourself, or for your agenda…”

    I thoroughly trust your relating of this story, but you readily admit that you don’t know who your source’s source is. You, of course probably trust your source, but does he (or she?) know the source or involvements of their source? I’ll keep looking at the basic question… “Who stands to benefit from this report being leaked?” and then consider whether this report is actually something that originated further up the ladder or further down.

    1. Karl Liam Saur Avatar
      Karl Liam Saur

      You seem to be forgetting the big fact: that the release of the full Missal trext to the publishers has been stalled. For months after the 2d recognitio was granted.

      1. Jeffrey Herbert Avatar


        Not forgetting that at all…but we don’t know WHY it has been stalled. Really, I could anonymously circulate a “letter” pretending to be a document from the BCDW suggesting that the Holy See consider returning the Eucharistic Prayer to Latin, and then set up a series of sock puppets online suggesting that this letter is what’s holding up the new translation. If the ruse were to get any legs, then every meeting between the Holy See and the CDW would be suggested as being a time to discuss this letter….. WE DON’T KNOW WHAT’S GOING ON! That says it all.

        Again, I’m not suggesting that Fr. Ruff is really a sock puppet (!), only that if we don’t know what’s going on, let’s not act as though we know what’s going on on the basis of some documents circulating, the connections of which we have no reason to find authoritative.

      2. Todd Flowerday Avatar

        The “why” is irrelevant. The hierarchy is insisting on an Advent 2011 implementation. The whole catechetical timetable is geared to it. That they’ve fumbled key deadlines to the people who will actually *work* on implementing this mess reveals a clumsy and apathetic incompetence.

        Have these people not mastered the message of Matthew 25:21?

      3. Jeffrey Herbert Avatar

        The “Why” is not irrelevant at all Todd… everyone is assumi ng that the process has stalled because there are all these changes being made. That may or may not be true. The animosity directed at the hierarchy all stems from this assumption. If somebody really knows that this is true, then come out and say so and present some evidence. Otherwise it is just guessing. It may well be that there are other factors involved, or perhaps this whole translation mess is exactly as it is being described here. There is no compelling evidence for either claim.

        As for the implemetation deadlines, I would wage that between 60-70% of parishes had no plans to begin working on implementation issues until September of 2011 anyway, if THAT soon!

      4. Todd Flowerday Avatar

        Jeffrey, you forget that those 60-70 percent rely on catechetical publishers, liturgical book companies, and the local Catholic book store to have available, even on the day before Thanksgiving, everything they need for that weekend.

        From what I read, there’s plenty of suspicion, animosity, and such afoot in the Church. How do you suggest we rid ourselves of it? More delays?

  3. Jeffrey Herbert Avatar

    BTW… I’m not being critical of anyone here… I think this is something that needs to be resolved… it just seems that we’re wondering why all of this “conspiracy stuff” keeps rearing it’s head, all the while taking part in passing on un documented information and spinning out theories of why it’s happening. That’s where the “conspiracy stuff” gets started…

  4. Chris Grady Avatar
    Chris Grady

    Though it may be hard to determine the leak and though, if discovered, they will surely be punished, it will be easy to tell who screwed the whole thing up: they will be profoundly thanked and duly promoted.

  5. Thomas Strickland Avatar
    Thomas Strickland

    I’m also a believer in “lux et veritas”! While it might be interesting to know who leaked, it would be even more interesting to know who “tinkered,” and even yet more interesting to know WHY. But putting all “interest” aside, might we take a look at how God might best be glorified and served? How about with a faithful translation that may be prayed and understood by cleric and lay, wise and simple alike?
    (Dare I bring up the old cliché “WWJD”?)

  6. Rita Ferrone Avatar
    Rita Ferrone

    Nice idea, Thomas. I’d like a translation that everyone could pray, too.

    Speaking as someone who
    (A) thought LA was at best a big mistake and at worst a crime,
    (B) regarded the process as irremediably flawed from the beginning, building as it did on injustice, and carrying us far from the stated intentions of Vatican II concerning how translations ought to be prepared,
    (C) felt that the 2008 translation was wooden, dull, needlessly convoluted, unworthy of the prayer of our people, and destined to distance us from the mysteries we are celebrating,
    (D) saw the bishops having their arms twisted to accept many aspects of the translation they did not want to accept,
    I just can’t get excited about the changes embodied in the version now referred to as 2010. Treachery? Injustice? Rejection of expertise? Tyranny by bureaucrats? Sounds quite familiar, just a new set of samples.

    If all our bishops now rise up in their offended pride and indignation, what will happen? At best, we’ll then have the wooden, abstract, ugly, convoluted English text of 2008 back again, and get a chance to see how bad the smash-up will be when it hits the streets. I can’t feel happy about it.

    Of course, the bishops won’t rise up over the 2010 changes. Past performance is no guarantee of future yields, but in this case, I think we have a pretty good idea. Our bishops are incapable of standing up to whatever is handed to them. They’ve learned their lesson over the past ten years.


    1. Jeffrey Herbert Avatar


      I think it’s unwise to project one’s owns feelings on everyone, especially Bishops. I know it elicits total disbelief in some circles, but there are some who actually LIKE the new translation, the 2008 moreso, but not everyone is all hung up over the translation of “perditum” as “straying”, and the accusation that the 2010 text doesn’t strictly follow LA, coming as it does from individuals who have been longstanding critics of that document, seem insincere at best and agenda-driven at worst. Not everyone who accepts the new translation will do so “begrudgingly” or have to “resign themselves” to accepting it!

      1. Rita Ferrone Avatar
        Rita Ferrone

        Well, Jeffrey, saying “the bishops” had “their arms twisted” rather implies that some of their brother bishops were doing the twisting! 🙂

        So no, I don’t believe ALL the bishops are opposed to the new translation. But I do know that they voted in favor of quite a number of amendments which were not granted. Being overruled in small things is part of a greater atmosphere of coercion. We also know that they approved the 1998 translation. That too was thrown out, and it had the votes. Once you’ve coerced a body of bishops into doing something, once they’ve been overruled more than once, it’s rather unfair to say “Look, they don’t mind!”

  7. Rita Ferrone Avatar
    Rita Ferrone

    Finally, the idea of scapegoating whoever did the latest round of changes also strikes me as unseemly and un-Christian. When are we going to learn that this is about addressing problems, not hanging people?

    1. Lynn Thomas Avatar
      Lynn Thomas


      Never. Fixing the problem instead of the blame is hardly the Catholic way of doing business. Honest, transparent, and good servant leadership is also alien to this imperial remnant, and likely has been so, uninterrupted, for centuries. [Momentary blinks don’t count, only sustained performance].

      Interestingly, amid all the reports of ‘joyful anticipation’ of this new Missal, the reports from my diocese all say that the priests pretty much hate the thing. Joy is most emphatically absent.

      The Pope will undoubtedly get what he hopes for so ardently: a smaller congregation that thinks the way he tells them they should think. But I don’t believe that it will be anything at all like a Church; certainly not one of Christ. For some of my acquaintance, this will be what finally drives them out the door. Not of itself, but on top of a great long list that I’m sure I need not repeat.

      How horribly sad.

      1. Jeffrey Pinyan Avatar


        “The Pope will undoubtedly get what he hopes for so ardently: a smaller congregation that thinks the way he tells them they should think.”

        Surely you have a quote from Ratzinger/Benedict himself to back that up.

      2. Rita Ferrone Avatar
        Rita Ferrone


        Thank you for your candor. I liked that “momentary blinks” comment. You end your remarks by saying “How horribly sad” but actually, you have made me laugh. It’s sometimes a relief just not to pretend that the emperor has such lovely new clothes!

  8. Lynne Gonzales Avatar
    Lynne Gonzales

    I don’t care who leaked it…just grateful this person(s) did so…ad multos annos!!

  9. David Haas Avatar
    David Haas

    Amen to everything Rita has said.
    In the last few months when I have been travelling a lot (including most recently, Honolulu) – in response to the ongoing diocesan workshops offered by BCDW/FDLC… no priest is saying anything positive. I am sure there are those who are positive, but I am not running into these people. The whole thing – LA, the process, the result, and now the news that a lot of unseemly things have been happening… I am fearful that this whole thing may be doomed, or severely wounded when whatever it comes out to be, is actually released, published and in our hands. This is a most sad journey…

    1. Jeffrey Herbert Avatar


      Not sure that FDLC events would be the best place to find clergy who would be enthusiastic. I can say, as a counter, that all of the clergy I have worked and spoken with at CMAA events this past year have been very positive AND enthusiastic about a new translation. True… there may be some specific points of debate, but in general the attitude is that it is an overall good thing.

      I harbor no illusions that everyone is supportive of the new translation… but neither should one harbor the illusion that opposition to it is in any way universal, or even overwhelming. Step outside of your regular circle and see what you find.

      1. Rita Ferrone Avatar
        Rita Ferrone

        Jeffrey, what are the relative sizes of those two groups? (NPM, and CMMA) I know something about them, but have no idea of their “market share.”

      2. Rita Ferrone Avatar
        Rita Ferrone

        No answer, Jeffrey?
        Anybody else? What is the relative size of these two groups?

  10. David Haas Avatar
    David Haas

    “Joyful anticipation?” – from where, from whom? From the majority of our priests? You have to be kidding. From the people of God? Give me a break. This entire thing, which was originally stained in my opinion, is even more so now…

    I want to say loudly and clearly, my support to Fr. Anthony for his courage, a courage that is lacking from other sources… thanks to him for clearly and soberly articulating the mess.

    1. Lynn Thomas Avatar
      Lynn Thomas

      Well, our local diocesan paper referred to ‘joyful anticipation’. I haven’t actually seen any, and my source for the remark about our priests is reliable, but the paper said we all had it. Well, maybe the ‘we’ was the author of the article. Or maybe it’s more of the same old, same old from the ‘authorities’, who seem to have taken their media model from the Baghdad Bob……

  11. Gregg Smith Avatar
    Gregg Smith

    “Surely you have a quote from Ratzinger/Benedict himself to back that up.”

    Do you have your head in the sand?

    1. Jeffrey Pinyan Avatar


      Stop stalling. Let’s pretend my head is in the sand. Now produce the quote.

      1. Rita Ferrone Avatar
        Rita Ferrone

        Jeffrey, this isn’t an aha moment.
        Everyone knows this is not a direct quote from the holy father, it’s a summary of things he thinks and has said. Furthermore, it’s a valid interpretation of actions he has taken that favor a few people at the expense of very many. You like exact quotes, but you have to realize that actions also speak. We are losing people fast.

      2. Jeffrey Pinyan Avatar


        Fr. Joseph Komonchak at Commonweal looked into the “smaller but purer” comment late last month. He quotes the Salt of the Earth interview: “Perhaps the time has come to say farewell to the idea of traditionally Catholic cultures. Maybe we are facing a new and different kind of epoch in the Church’s history, where Christianity will again be characterized more by the mustard seed, where it will exist in small, insignificant groups that nonetheless live an intensive struggle against evil and bring the good into the world–that let God in.”

        Fr. Komonchak concludes: “This strikes me as prognosis more than program.” I haven’t read the whole page, though… there are over a hundred comments.

      3. Rita Ferrone Avatar
        Rita Ferrone

        Yeah, some of the comments are mine, too. Plus, I wrote Fr. Komonchak a long letter about it that was too long to post.

        The bottom line is that the idea that this is a prognosis not a program should not allow us to ignore the fact that the program is making the prognosis come true!

      4. Jeffrey Herbert Avatar


        I think the great mistake among those who cite this particular quote from Pope Benedict is the assumption that this is something he is happy about, or that he wishes to see come true. He is very obviously sad about the destruction that Modernism has caused, and his “prognosis” is that it will eventually end with a smaller Church as progressives and modernists

      5. Jeffrey Herbert Avatar


        I think it is a big mistake to assume that this is something that Pope Benedict is happy about. He is obviously distraught about the destruction caused by modernism, and his “prognosis” is that it will lead to a smaller church, not because some rigid orthodoxy will drive them out, but because they will cease to need an institutional church.

        If there is a “program” at all, it is simply to counter the advance of modernism by proposing an alternative, Catholic culture. Everyone remains free to accept modernism as a foundation for their life, but the contradictions with that Catholic culture will eventually result in them no longer needing the Church. What will remain are those who understand that they need the Church. That should be everyone, unfortunately it will likely be relatively few. Such is sinful man!

      6. Anthony Ruff, OSB Avatar
        Anthony Ruff, OSB

        Jeffrey – I’m liking a lot your contributions to this conversation. I think you’re on to something on who will need the Church anymore. I agree there is a drift in many cases which goes, roughly: from belief to a bit of questioning to more study to grasping the complexity of issues to even more questioning to rejection of parts of the faith to seeing the truth in secular accounts to…loss of faith and departure from the Church.

        However – and this is the tricky part which guarantees the Church will be wrestling with this from now until the Second Coming – we need unbelievably wise discernment to figure out, even if the trajectory above is the problem we’re combating, what in ‘modernity’ (or the modern world, or contemporary society, or secularism, or whatever) is true and should be heeded as the voice of God’s spirit. As of said before (probably too many times), the Church erred in thinking that democracy and freedom of conscience and separation of Church and state were contrary to the Faith.

        Selling out isn’t the answer. But neither is demonizing modernity (I’m not saying you’re doing that). The answer is somewhere in between. But WHERE O dear Lord?? Sure wish we know for sure. We don’t. So need to keep listening to each other, and praying for wisdom as we muddle through.



      7. Rita Ferrone Avatar
        Rita Ferrone


        I should clarify that I do not think it is something the pope is necessarily happy about in itself (Lynn may, I don’t). But accepting large-scale defections as inevitable removes the caution one ought to have when one sees that policies and programs are alienating significant numbers of Catholics.

        It is easy to believe you are the one who is right (and the pope does think he is right), but pastors of souls have to exercise caution lest they leave behind the very people whom they are charged to lead. The drive for purity can become a tool of destruction rather than a shining witness that attracts, if it is not subject to discernment along the way.

        The personal theologian of the Archbishop of Brussels recently resigned because, he said, the Archbishop (a Benedict appointee) is driving against the traffic on a highway and insists that everyone else is going the wrong way. As the Archbishop’s “GPS” (a clever image!) he was not being listened to, no matter how often he recalculated the route.

      8. Rita Ferrone Avatar
        Rita Ferrone


        Lynn said “what he hopes for so ardently: a smaller congregation that thinks the way he tells them they should think” — I think “hoping ardently” for a “purer” church which is necessarily going to be smaller is an accurate assessment of what Benedict is doing.

  12. Adrian Michael Avatar
    Adrian Michael

    I agree. Fr. Anthony has done bold and fine work. Many priests that I have talked with, concerning the new translation, cannot believe how distressing this is going to be for all. The prayers cannot be prayed or proclaimed in a public setting without stumbling. Wal Mart will have a run on Sharpies and three ring binders as the missals start arriving in parishes.

  13. Diana Macalintal Avatar

    As a fellow blogger, I know that horrible sinking feeling of doubt 2 seconds after you hit publish. My thanks go to Fr. Anthony for everything he has helped make this little spot in the liturgical blogosphere become: a place to speak candidly and intelligently about what concerns us and exhilirates us about liturgy.

    Sadly I have to say that I didn’t go to grad school and dedicate my life to helping others do the liturgy well so that I can spend my time trying to make sense of leaks, rumors, and consipiracy theories. When I began work at the diocesan level, I learned quickly that a certain amount of political savvy is necessary. But this is just too much.

    In 2004, when ICEL presented its first draft, my Bishop gladly shared it with me and others and asked for our feedback. I gave him back a 24-page document filled with comments, notes, and suggestions. Although what was presented to me was even more awkward than what would eventually be given in 2008, I was excited to see that consultation was taking place at various levels–and that I had a part to play in it.

    Now I am just tired of it all. I want to do what is right. I want to support my Church at all its levels. I want to give the ministers in my diocese the best tools to prepare liturgy well. I want to believe that the liturgy, the people, and how we pray together still matter. I want the people of my diocese to believe that too. But days like these make this vocation almost too much to bear.

    Peace to all.

    1. Linda Reid Avatar
      Linda Reid

      “Now I am just tired of it all.”

      I am chiming in here to say that I too,
      am tired of it all, and Rita’s post made
      me shout “YES” in agreement. The
      clunky construction and obscure
      vocabulary of the sentences make
      prayer very difficult. Composers are
      giving this a wonderful effort in a spirit
      of cooperation, but they are forced to
      work with flawed grammar and
      archaic vocabulary!
      Workshops and gathering of all sorts are
      offering nothing but “The New Translation” or “How to implement the New Translation” and I am really tired of it. Is anyone offering any other topic between now and Advent 2011?

      1. Kimberly Hope Belcher Avatar
        Kimberly Hope Belcher

        I am. 5 or 6 presentations in the next 15 months on how baptism brings us into the life and love of the Trinity.

        Because whatever we may make of translations, there will be plenty of new baptizands in the next year, and plenty of Christians looking to their baptism for renewal and strength!

      2. Rita Ferrone Avatar
        Rita Ferrone

        The number of adult baptisms in the U.S. has dropped by 40% since Benedict became pope, after a long period of stable, steady growth.

      3. Jack Nolan Avatar
        Jack Nolan

        Rita said: “The number of adult baptisms in the U.S. has dropped by 40% since Benedict became pope, after a long period of stable, steady growth.”

        I would not go down that road unless you are willing to also correlate the catastrophic decline in Catholic practice in every measurable area following the introduction of the existing missal crafted by the former incarnation of ICEL. The evidence there is better documented and just as stridently ignored or denied.
        The old axiom correlation is not causation is typically invoked. My question is why those who denied the correlation in the former case (1970s) have not denied the correlation that you’ve drawn here?

      4. Anthony Ruff, OSB Avatar
        Anthony Ruff, OSB

        I agree with Jack that it’s not necessarily causality – though I’m not sure Rita was claiming that. I wonder how much the decline is fallout from the mishandling of the sex abuse scandal in 2002. A lag is to be expected since it takes adults a year a two from the time adults decide to pursue the catechumenate up to the time of their baptism.


      5. Rita Ferrone Avatar
        Rita Ferrone

        Dear Jack and Anthony,

        I was responding to Kimberly’s upbeat statement directly above mine. We can certainly rejoice with those preparing for baptism. Heaven knows I am the first to do this. But I think it’s important to temper our optimism with a realistic appraisal of some unhappy facts about numbers. This relates to the discussion above.

        No, I am not claiming cause and effect, only putting a bracket on the time frame during which this decline has been happening.

        Jack, I am not afraid of research. However, whatever correlations may be made in past years, I think it is too late to change what took place forty years ago. That moment is past and cannot be lived again. Remember, I was the one (above in this thread) who said “When are we going to start addressing problems rather than hanging people?” I really mean that. I am not trying to hang anybody. I am simply stating a fact that has to be reckoned with, a state of affairs that is happening now, not forty years ago.

      6. John Drake Avatar
        John Drake

        Rita, why couldn’t your time frame “bracket” have been stated as “…since mid-2005…” rather than “since Benedict became pope” ?

  14. Fr. Rob Johansen Avatar

    The “bombshell” has been dropped. The “witchhunt” is on.

    Oh, the machinations of the conspiratorial cabal! Oh, the drama!

    I’m getting the vapors. Must lie down…

    1. Ioannes Andreades Avatar
      Ioannes Andreades

      It’s people! Soylent translation is made out of people! We gotta stop them…somehow!

  15. Joe O'Leary Avatar
    Joe O’Leary

    Well, people hate to be wrong, and the Vatican in particular utterly hate losing face, so a lot of petulance and denial can be expected before the new translations are abandoned. But Anthony is probably worrying too much about witch-hunts etc. Those who denounce the new translations and who gather intelligence about them are doing nothing unorthodox nor are they breaking any church laws, so there is nothing the powers that be can do against them. Of course it may make them unpopular with diehard reactionaries, but as we can see from this site Fr Anthony has not elicited any bad feeling directed at him from them, and has in fact won many admirers.

  16. Dunstan Harding Avatar
    Dunstan Harding

    Alright, I did it and, like George Washington, I confess I did it with the help of my little hatchet. I’ll go peacefully to the CDW and sweat it out under the glaring lights of the Liturgy Police.

    Now let’s get on with distributing to the English speaking world a missal acceptable to the vast majority of people using Cranmerian English and nothing more.

  17. Charles Goldsmith Avatar
    Charles Goldsmith

    Justice Alito is a “white male”? Oh, the horrors! And he’s “right wing”? Double horrors! I bet he would even vote to repeal Roe v. Wade’s abortion license. Triple horrors! This blog is a fascinating glimpse into the liberal mindset.

    1. Anthony Ruff, OSB Avatar
      Anthony Ruff, OSB

      Charles, stop please.

      Before you characterize “the liberal mindset,” or MY mindset, please hear a few things. Did you know that I’m anti-abortion? So much so that I think there should be no legal right to it? (That’s in a far-off ideal world which has lots of gov’t support for anyone in need.) And that I think Roe v. Wade is really bad? (Now, how the prolife movement might gain more credibility to be more effective, and how we vote in a world where RvW won’t be overturned anytime soon, are entirely separate questions.) I refuse to be characterized in this way as a “liberal” in American political or judicial questions. I think Catholic Christianity is so profound and beautiful that it doesn’t fit any of those secular categories neatly.

      I suppose the way I wrote made me liable to misunderstanding. The Bush-Alito plot wasn’t MY theory, it was a theory I heard from others which I thought was an excellent parallel rhetorically to the 2008/2010 issue. I can see how you thought I was speaking in my own voice as an opponent of Alito from a standard US political faction.

      Please, Charles – let’s build bridges. We both want Latin chant and reverent liturgy that follows the rubrics and traditional choral music and… on and on. I’m not the enemy, I’d like to think.


  18. Claire Mathieu Avatar
    Claire Mathieu

    My favorite quote from Pope Benedict: “Only decisive action carried out with complete honesty and transparency will restore the respect and good will of the […] people towards the Church to which we have consecrated our lives.”

    Bravo to Fr. Ruff for following that advice!

    1. Lynn Thomas Avatar
      Lynn Thomas


      If only B16 would follow his own advice! It’s a wonderful quote, but not something that he’s enforcing in the Vatican, to wit: The whole English translation mess.

  19. Lynn Thomas Avatar
    Lynn Thomas

    Please forgive the long quote below, I’m past the max ‘reply’ level.


    I don’t know if B16 is happy about what’s happening. In fairness, probably not, as I’m inclined to believe reports about his warmth and piety. But, I do think he sees it as inevitable, as you describe below. And I think the rest of your comments are spot on. They certainly describe a lot of how I see things going. I love the traffic image – the bps should drive carefully!

    Rita said:

    ” Jeffrey,
    I should clarify that I do not think it is something the pope is necessarily happy about in itself (Lynn may, I don’t). But accepting large-scale defections as inevitable removes the caution one ought to have when one sees that policies and programs are alienating significant numbers of Catholics.

    It is easy to believe you are the one who is right (and the pope does think he is right), but pastors of souls have to exercise caution lest they leave behind the very people whom they are charged to lead. The drive for purity can become a tool of destruction rather than a shining witness that attracts, if it is not subject to discernment along the way.

    The personal theologian of the Archbishop of Brussels recently resigned because, he said, the Archbishop (a Benedict appointee) is driving against the traffic on a highway and insists that everyone else is going the wrong way. As the Archbishop’s “GPS” (a clever image!) he was not being listened to, no matter how often…

  20. Jeffrey Herbert Avatar

    The number of adult baptisms in the U.S. has dropped by 40% since Benedict became pope, after a long period of stable, steady growth.

    Adult Baptisms are so strongly tied to the number of marriages in the church that as one number goes down, so goes the other. As the process for non-Catholic spouses to “become Catholic” is made more involved and time consuming, many have just given up even worrying about it. I doubt that this decline has much, if anything to do with Pope Benedict.

    1. Rita Ferrone Avatar
      Rita Ferrone

      Jeffrey, with regard to the process being “too involved,” there your estimate is not supported by the data. The number has been rising since the re-introduction of the catechumenate. These stats are all available in the Kennedy directory. And the number of receptions into full communion is still steady. It’s the baptisms that have gone down.

      Marriage is a big factor for many, but not the driving engine for the overall numbers that some consider it to be. According to the USCCB study (2000) although the single largest motivation given is “family unity,” the other motivations combined add up to more than 50% of the people who are in the process of adult initiation.

      The question of the number of Catholic marriages however is one for which I don’t know the numbers or rate of decline. It would be interesting to know if they are in sharp decline or gradual decline or steady overall. I know that in Boston they are down dramatically, and if it is true in dioceses hard hit by the abuse scandal, there could be some linkages there.

  21. Anthony Ruff, OSB Avatar
    Anthony Ruff, OSB

    Jeffrey – This is an interesting theory, can you say more about it? Has there been a change in policy in the last five or ten years? Mother Church restored the catechumenate several decades ago, following the wishes of the Second Vatican Council. Is it being introduced only now in some places?

  22. Paul Inwood Avatar
    Paul Inwood

    Within the past 48 hours, I have heard three different names seriously suggested as being the person behind the Xavier Rindfleisch pseudonym:

    Andrew Wadsworth
    Keith Pecklers
    Bruce Harbert

    All of those are intriguing possibilities in different ways, and I am not going to say what my opinion is of their respective likelihoods, nor of the justificatory evidence offered.

    What is FAR more interesting is that the grapevine now indicates that there is not one report but two reports: the Rindfleisch document that we have all read here, and a fuller report that has been sent to the Bishops — and to the Congregation.

    Hmm. Does the plot thicken?

    As those reading me here know, I am not really concerned whether 2010 is worse than 2008 or not (it is — considerably worse), but why on earth 1998 is not being taken as the standard by which everything else should be measured when it is demonstrably infinitely better than 2008.

    1. Anthony Ruff, OSB Avatar
      Anthony Ruff, OSB

      Somebody put up the leaked report here:

      The first page of the report has this line: “An exhaustive analysis of the entire received text can be completed should this be useful to ICEL’s member Conferences.” We don’t know whether or not that exhaustive analysis was done. Could this be the second report? Everything is done in complete secrecy, so we won’t know unless somebody leaks it.

    2. Anthony Ruff, OSB Avatar
      Anthony Ruff, OSB

      There are dozens and dozens of people who could have leaked it. To preserve Xavier Rindfleisch’s anonymity I will ordinarily not deny any names people guess, so as not to narrow the playing field of possible candidates. But to protect ICEL – they’re the good guys in this mess, and I wouldn’t want them to become the lightning rod for attacks as has happened in the past – I will say that I definitely did not get it from anyone connected in any way to ICEL. I am highly certain that no one from ICEL would leak it because they are most diligent not to get in trouble with the authorities (as they have in the past, rather unfairly).

      1. Chris Grady Avatar
        Chris Grady

        ‘to protect ICEL – they’re the good guys in this mess’

        No they are not the good guys, Anthony, at least not the ‘new ICEL’ – consider the relentless ‘getting even’ and destruction of faithful servants’ careers and good names … think of the ideological warfare mounted by then Father (soon after Monsignor) Harbert in his quest to get the ICEL top job, and what about the outrageous nonsense spoken by ICEL chairman Bishop Roche when he addressed the US Bishops (in San Francisco?) a few years ago, telling them to vote for the texts ‘or else’ … (and they ended up getting ‘else’ anyway!) – these are the ‘good guys’?

        And if they’re the ‘good guys’ would you care to name the ‘bad guys’?

      2. Anthony Ruff, OSB Avatar
        Anthony Ruff, OSB

        I don’t think there are any bad guys in this. Really.
        I also expect that my attitude on this point will help me rise rapidly in the ecclesiastical hierarchy. 🙂

    3. Bill deHaas Avatar
      Bill deHaas

      Totally agree, Paul. and would love to see John Page back in the saddle but given what happened not sure he would ever want to be a “target” again.

    4. Chris Grady Avatar
      Chris Grady

      Well, Rindfliesch has made several references to a favourite little eatery in Rome, and of the three named, only Pecklers lives in Rome . . . (though I’ll grant you the other two are much bigger eaters).

  23. john robert francis Avatar
    john robert francis

    None of the three suggested above is XR.

  24. Fr. Rob Johansen Avatar

    OK, I’ll come clean.

    I am Xavier Rindfleisch. I also wrote the report.

    I also set the Reichstag fire, I was the gunman on the grassy knoll, and I was the one who poisoned Pope John Paul I. I did so on the orders of the P2 Lodge, as he was about to reprobate Humanae Vitae, drop priestly celibacy, and allow liturgical dance.

    I lament in sackcloth and ashes.

    1. Chris Grady Avatar
      Chris Grady

      ‘I was the one who poisoned Pope John Paul I’

      Do you still do housecalls (or Palacecalls)?

  25. Chris Grady Avatar
    Chris Grady

    John Drake :
    Rita, why couldn’t your time frame “bracket” have been stated as “…since mid-2005…” rather than “since Benedict became pope” ?

    Because that’s when Benedict became Pope.

  26. John H R Pieper Avatar

    First of all, I could be wrong. Please pray for me.

    Changes since Vatican II have been ongoing. Changing the words will change the meaning and then the mindset. Hijacking the English version is one way to take control. These last minute changes stink of human issues of the need to be in control.

    We share one Baptism in Jesus Christ. Both Laity and the Priesthood have an authority through the grace of our own faith. We speak here with different voices but all one catholic (universal) Christian faith.

    The laity of the Church is approximately 90 percent. The approximately 10 percent of the Church who make up the priesthood have made a life commitment out of sincere faith. Of those few, it seems that the upper levels of hierarchy cannot resist this tinkering.

    Recent revelations as with the Vatican Bank and the priest scandals, I feel as if it seems that the Curia DO feel the need to reclaim some of their prestige as to the teaching authority of the Church.

    Fr. Virgil Michael would be rolling his grave. It’s difficult to stay in communion with the Church when the rules keep changing.


  27. Lynn Thomas Avatar
    Lynn Thomas

    John Pieper wrote: “I feel as if it seems that the Curia DO feel the need to reclaim some of their prestige as to the teaching authority of the Church.”

    I’ve spent many years studying leadership, but it only takes a few minuets to know that they’re going about it all wrong. As in _ALL WRONG!!_ and if I could put that in bold italics as well, I would [how _does_ one do those effects here??]

    Ultimately, it will backfire on them. All government is by consent of the governed. All of it, always.

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