New translation “unacceptable,” say Irish priests

New Translation of the Missal Unacceptable, says the Association of Catholic Priests (ACP).

The ACP understands that the Irish Conference of Bishops has decided that the new translation of the Missal will be introduced in Ireland on the First Sunday of Advent 2011. While a new and improved version of the current missal would be welcome, this new translation is not what is needed. The ACP urgently calls on the bishops to defer its introduction for five years. During that period the bishops, together with the people and priests, can properly examine the suitability of these texts for the Irish Church.

The celebration of the Mass is central to our work as priests and, more importantly, to the lives of the people we serve.  In the words of the central document of Vatican II,  Lumen Gentium (The Light of the People), the Mass is “ the source and summit of the Christian life.” (LG 11). Our concerns flow from our experience as pastors who attempt each Sunday to celebrate the liturgy with our people in a meaningful, dignified and prayerful way.  Many bishops, priests, lay people, theologians and liturgists across the English speaking world share our concerns. (

Opposition on the grounds of the Language used

  • A word-for-word translation from Latin into a vernacular language, mandated by the document Liturgiam Authenticam (March 2001), demonstrates a lack of awareness of the insights gained from linguistics and anthropology during the past 100 years. Translators in other international bodies follow the ‘dynamic equivalent’ norm which means translating according to the sense of the original text, rather than literally.
  • The ACP is gravely concerned that this literal translation from Latin has produced texts that are archaic, elitist and obscure and not in keeping with the natural rhythm, cadence and syntax of the English language.  In fact, from the few available samples of the new texts, it is clear that the style of English used throughout the Mass will be so convoluted that it will be difficult to read the prayers in public. In the words of Bishop Donald Trautman, former chair of the United States Bishops’ Liturgical Committee, this is a translation where “the vocabulary is not readily understandable by the average Catholic. .. how can someone read the text in public when some of the sentences contain 70 or 80 words.” It is particularly ironic that this Latinised, stilted English is being imposed on Irish people who are so blessed with world-renowned poets, playwrights, and novelists.
  • Catholics should be allowed to pray publically in their own language. Jesus used the language of the people when he was speaking with them. The New Testament is written in the language of the ordinary people, not classical Greek.
  • The ACP is aware of the history of this translation. It regrets that the expertise of scholars in many disciplines was spurned. Many of these scholars gave their time and talents freely to help the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL), produce acceptable texts. In 1998 the ICEL translation was accepted and approved by every conferences of bishops in the English speaking world.
  • The translation is also in conflict with the Constitution of the Sacred Liturgy which has a whole section on norms for adapting the Liturgy to the temperament and traditions of people. This allows for legitimate variations and adaptations (No. 38).
  • This translation runs contrary to one of the main goals of our Association, namely: That liturgical celebrations use rituals and language that are easily understood, inclusive and accessible to all.

A Theological Problem

A central teaching of the Christian Churches is that Jesus died for all people.  This meaning is conveyed in the current translation of the Latin words of consecration over the chalice, pro vobis et  pro multis. The phrase is translated for you and for all in the current missal. The new text opts for the more literal translation, for you and for many. In English, the word “many” contrasts with the word “few,” so people may be led to ask, are there some for whom Jesus did not die?

Furthermore, in a country where ecumenism should be an important pastoral priority, it is worth noting that the new text is less ecumenical than the current one.

Ignoring Lay People

In Ireland, hundreds of thousands of lay people attend Mass each Sunday. This is the principle expression of their faith, the most important prayer they can offer to God and the focal point of their togetherness as a Christian and parish community.  Together we are the people of God, yet we were ignored during the period when the texts were being translated.

Ignoring Women

Many women will be rightly enraged by the continued deliberate use of non-inclusive language.  The ACP strongly opposes the introduction and use of any texts which will insult and offend women who are at the heart of every Christian community in Ireland.

Ignoring Priests

Priests, who work hard with their parishioners to celebrate the Eucharist in a prayerful, dignified manner, were ignored by those who translated these texts. They have a better knowledge of the prayer-life and liturgical needs of Irish Catholics than anyone in a curial office in Rome. The ACP believes that the Irish bishops should have consulted widely with their priests and people before agreeing to impose these texts on Irish Catholics.

Confusion and Division

The ACP believes that the imposition of the new texts could lead to chaos and confusion. The new translation may be fully implemented in some churches and rejected in others. Some priests will adopt a ‘pick-and-mix’ approach using some texts from the current Missal and others from the new translation. There may be frustration and even anger among laity, religious and priests alike. As a result, the celebration of the Eucharist, instead of being a symbol of unity, could become a focus of disagreement and division. The Irish church does not need this confusion and disharmony, especially at this time.


  • The ACP calls on the members of the Irish Episcopal Conference to postpone the launch of these new translations.
  • We ask the bishops to engage with Irish Catholics with a view to developing a new set of texts that will adequately reflect the literary genius and spiritual needs of our Church community in these modern times.
  • We suggest that the Irish bishops take a lead from the German bishops, who have objected to “good German texts” being replaced with “unfamiliar new interpretations” and to assert the right of the Irish Conference of Bishops to make its own decisions in regard to the celebration of the Liturgy in Ireland. (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 36 § 4)

Bishops are the chief pastors of their dioceses. They should give priority to the liturgical needs of the priests and people above everything else.

We encourage priests, laypeople and religious to read these proposed new texts. If you share the perspective of the ACP as outlined above, we urge you to make your concerns known to the bishop of your diocese. The U.S. version of some of these texts can be found in

Since Rome is intent on imposing this new text on the Irish Catholic Church without proper consultation you might wish to share your views on this and other matters with the Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments, H. E. Card. Antonio CAÑIZARES LLOVERA.


85 responses to “New translation “unacceptable,” say Irish priests”

  1. Stephen Taylor Avatar

    I hope this all comes to a peaceful conclusion.

    1. Anthony Ruff, OSB Avatar
      Anthony Ruff, OSB

      I too hope, ultimately, for a peaceful conclusion.

      But peace is not the only or ultimate value. There are other values like truth, justice, love, faithfulness to Jesus.

      In 12-Step programs like AA there sometimes needs to be an intervention, which can be quite painful and unpeaceful, on the road to healing and happiness. Often enough there are strong voices of resisttance (I’m not attributing this to you, Mr. Taylor) wanting to keep the peace at all costs. There are strong pressures to minimize, deny, keep things the way they are, not name the truth, focus on all the really good (but irrelevant to the issue) qualities of the sick person, and so forth.


  2. Jeffrey Pinyan Avatar


    The context of “pro multis” is not “who did Jesus die for?” but “who will have their sins remitted by His blood?” I wish discussion of the appropriateness of translating “multis” as “many” would begin with the right question and context.

    1. Graham Wilson Avatar
      Graham Wilson


      I disagree.

      The drama of the death of the Son of God for all humanity and our remembering of it is the context. Whether all, or many, choose to respond to Jesus’ salvific act is a side issue. The main issue is Jesus Christ died for everyone who has ever, or will ever live. We remember this and celebrate this and give thanks for this in the Mass. This is the cornerstone of the salvation of the human race and needs to be articulated in the Mass. No-one is excluded, all are invited, Blood is shed for all.

      The words of the current translation in English are plain and unambigous and express orthodox Catholic theology and the clear and certain teaching of the Church since the start: “It will be shed for you and for all so that sins may be forgiven.”

      If Jesus did not shed his blood for all, the many would not enjoy salvation. This is the context that we celebrate and commemorate in the Words of Institution.

      1. Samuel J. Howard Avatar

        It’s true that regarding pro multis “The current words in English are plain and unambigous and express orthodox Catholic theology”.

        But that’s not the standard. If we translated “qui pro vobis et pro multis effundetur in remissionem peccatorum.” as “I believe in one God” it would also be plain and unambigious and express orthodox Catholic theology.

        The argument is that “which will bepoured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.” expresses orthodox Catholic theology and also translates the underlying words.

        I’m not sure “being unambigious” in argument is entirely desireable here. The underlying doctrine (whether all will be saved) is ambigious. Catholics are permitted to hope that all will be saved. They are also permitted to believe that some people will go to Hell. The argument is that the new translation allows that tension (which is real) to be expressed and which is also found in the underlying words.

        Also, while I don’t find the current words to be ambigious, some people have, as evidenced by the reams of articles alleging that the Novus Ordo embraces universalism for just this reason.

      2. Jeffrey Pinyan Avatar


        Jesus did shed His blood for all, so that sins may be
        forgiven. But we cannot say with certainty that Jesus
        shed His blood for all for (i.e. unto) the forgiveness
        of their sins. And I think that those particular words are the proper context (however narrow that might seem) for governing their translation.

        See, the current translation is perfectly valid as a theological statement, its shortcomings as a translation notwithstanding (referring to the use of the subjunctive where it seems to be unwarranted). But the new English translation succeeds as a translation and as a valid theological statement.

        Edit/Update: I completely agree with SJH’s words: The argument is that “which will bepoured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.” expresses orthodox Catholic theology and also translates the underlying words.

  3. Mary Coogan Avatar
    Mary Coogan

    I respectfully suggest that the Irish priests have a marvelous alternative not available in other Anglophone cultures: their other Constitutionally established language, of ancient heritage, a language that is also “blessed with world-renowned” literature and song and prayer. Saying the Mass in Gaeilge would also settle the matter of translation in dispute above: “Doirtfear Í ar bhur son agus ar son an chine dhaonna” (It [“Mo chuid fola,” My blood] will be shed for your [plural] sake and for the sake of the human race / of humankind).

    1. Rita Ferrone Avatar
      Rita Ferrone

      Mary, would the Irish translation not also have to be changed eventually so that it does not say “the human race” but rather “many”? Not that I think it should be changed, but I wanted to point out that the alternative you mention will not last. The English is being retranslated first, but all the other language groups are supposed to do the same in due time.

      1. Mary Coogan Avatar
        Mary Coogan

        Rita, you write, “. . . the alternative you mention will not last.” Sadly, you’re probably right: the alternative being, first, the endangered Irish language itself. My ulterior motive for the suggestion was, of course, to point out that the Church has not yet given wholehearted support to the language. Even in the Gaeltachts, it is difficult to find an Irish-language Mass. Political issues surround its use. The Anglican Book of Common Prayer, however, was printed in Gaeilge centuries ago (so there would be at least an historical ecumenical dimension to using Gaeilge). Will there be any effort to rewrite the Irish translation if no one is using it?

    2. Joe O'Leary Avatar
      Joe O’Leary

      Right, but the faithful do not necessarily want to hear Mass in Irish. And who’s to guarantee that the Vatican won’t alter the current Irish translation also?

      1. Mary Coogan Avatar
        Mary Coogan

        Masses in Gaeilge would provide support for the teaching of Irish, surely, at a time when the schools are struggling and the government’s funding for language support is in danger of disappearing. Mass in Irish, sermon in English–for the youth in the schools–why not? It’s worth a try. What would Fr. Peadar O Laoire do? As for the comment below, that the Irish and Welsh versions will be translations from English–impossible!

  4. Fr. Jim Blue Avatar
    Fr. Jim Blue

    Does anyone know how representative the ACP is of Irish priests?

    I wonder if the National Federation of Priest Councils in the U.S. is roughly analogous?

    I keep wishing there was some way to avert this train wreck. Perhaps it will be up to the laity? After all, they are paying the bills!

    1. Dunstan Harding Avatar
      Dunstan Harding

      “It is particularly ironic that this Latinised, stilted English is being imposed on Irish people who are so blessed with world-renowned poets, playwrights, and novelists.”

      The hierarchy of England and Wales should also find it ironic, given they too are blessed with representing the same groups. Where are their voices in delivering a resounding NO? As for the USCCB, with perhaps a couple of exceptions, no surprises there.

    2. Joe O'Leary Avatar
      Joe O’Leary

      I think the Association of Irish Priests have self-defined themselves as those who believe Vatican II has been sidetracked and who want to get back to Vatican II. They represent, in short, the more liberal wing of the Irish clergy. But they also seem more lively, articulate and upbeat than their silent and demoralized confreres.

  5. Jeffrey Herbert Avatar

    Fr. Jim;

    I wondered the same thing. Does the ACP represent “Irish Priests” in the same way that, say, the NPM represents “American Catholic Musicians”? Or as you point out, as the NFP represents Priests here in the States? Or is it a selective membership group… essentially a group of like-minded Priests in Ireland?

    Not that it makes their argument any less worthy of being heard, but it would be important to know what percentage of the Priests in Ireland are represented.

    1. Joe O'Leary Avatar
      Joe O’Leary

      I think the new association attracted 300 members? There used to be 6000 priests in Ireland.

  6. Jeffrey Herbert Avatar

    Hmm.. just did a quick research… the group is less than a year old, seems to have between 42 and 70-something members, and seems to have been formed specifically in response to the new translation as well as a number of other… hmmm, how can one put this… well, perhaps the best term would be “progressive reforms” within the Church.

    In other words…it’s not really news that the members of this group would be in opposition to the new translation since that seems to be the reason for which they got together.

    1. Jeffrey Herbert Avatar

      I was reading an article from last September before the meeting. At that time, about 70 had signed up. I did find this…

      While the association launched with somewhat of a fanfare that initial interest has been hard to maintain. Organisers claim somewhere between 300 and 350 priests attended the inaugural meeting in Portlaoise in September. The most recent regional meeting in Carlow, aimed at priests from Ferns, Kildare and Leighlin and Ossory drew just 27 priests out of a possible 444 diocesan and religious priests in the region

      Again…I respect their right to get together and air their grievances, but I think to post a headline like “Translation Unacceptable, say Irish Priests” is a bit of spin at best. Perhaps “Group of Irish Priests Opposed to Translation say It is Unacceptable” …. that would be true, at least as far as can be discerned.

      1. Joe O'Leary Avatar
        Joe O’Leary

        “grievances” — what a put-down. These are priests who have spent their whole lives in ministry (though I myself am somewhat of a hurler on the ditch), and include some of Ireland’s most admired pastors.

  7. Bill deHaas Avatar

    Jeffrey – you reveal your total lack of understanding bout the Irish dioceses and their clerical staffs. One of the primary reasons for the “recent’ gathering is the past behavior of Irish bishops in terms of allowing priests to form an independent council. The translation was not the impetus for their recent conference – it was the sexual abuse scandals in Ireland; the now on-going visitation by Vatican appointed hierarchy, etc.

    Hopefully, folks such as Paul Inwood and Joe O’Leary can give even more details on this.

    For your penance: say two Our Fathers.

    1. George Andrews Avatar
      George Andrews

      The Irish Times article about ACP’s founding does not mention sexual abuse. It does talk about ACP’s wanting to change the Church’s teaching on sexuality, and certainly hints at women’s ordination.

      from Sep. 6, 2010….

      –“The latter it would do “with special emphasis on the primacy of the individual conscience, the status and active participation of all the baptised [and] the task of establishing a church where all believers will be treated as equal”.

      It would seek “a redesigning of ministry in the church” so as to involve “the entire faith community”, and a restructuring of governance in the church, encouraging service rather than power and a culture of transparency “particularly in the appointment of church leaders”.

      It would also encourage a culture in which priests and bishops “relate to each other in a spirit of trust, support and generosity”.

      It would work towards “a re-evaluation of Catholic sexual teaching and practice that recognises the profound mystery of human sexuality”….—

      1. Anthony Ruff, OSB Avatar
        Anthony Ruff, OSB

        George Andrews –

        Thanks for this important clarification. You are correct, they weren’t founded “because of” the sex abuse issue. I had made that link in my mind because I associated their founding with the widespread frustration in Ireland with the hierarchy’s response to that issue and many others. But in fact the sex abuse crisis was context for their founding, not the explicitly stated reason.

        At any rate, they certainly weren’t founded because of the missal translation problem.


    2. Jeffrey Herbert Avatar


      I don’t claim any special knowledge about them. I read their initial press release before the meeting last September. There was nothing about sexual abuse, other than a statement about expanding the Church’s view of human sexuality. I’m sure it’s high on their list though.

      The meeting they had in January with the Cardinal didn’t seem to go well.

  8. Anthony Ruff, OSB Avatar
    Anthony Ruff, OSB

    Bill deHaas is correct – ACP was formed because of the abuse scandals. Translation issue came much later.

    They have over 400 members:


    1. Joe O'Leary Avatar
      Joe O’Leary

      Over 400 members? If so, that is a huge success; almost one tenth of the current clerical population. And indeed their agenda is so enlightened that it must have great attractive power. But I suspect a differentiation must be made between those who are formally members and those who have attended the meetings (held in various dioceses in Ireland).

      I think that the translation problem was mentioned in the earliest document of the Association, published in the Furrow last year (signed by 60 or so priests including myself).

      1. Joe O'Leary Avatar
        Joe O’Leary

        Furrow article: “Liturgical celebrations that use rituals and language that are easily understood, inclusive and accessible to all.”

  9. dismas bede Avatar
    dismas bede

    I don’t know about the (dis)similarities between the ACP and the NFPC, but I can only hope that the Irish version is far more reflective and representative of the Irish clergy than its American counterpart. My sense and lack of awareness of anything “real” that they/it does leads me to think that the NFPC exists as a confederation of diocesan “officials”, and perhaps satisfies some requirement to have such a group. As far as being aware of, in touch with and representative of the American clergy… not so much! I don’t think that happens even on a diocesan level, much less national. Then again, what could ever represent or speak for what one late Ordinary fondly referred to as “The Society of Odd Fellows?”

  10. William Pitcher Sweet Avatar
    William Pitcher Sweet

    Thank goodness for the wisdom of the Irish priests. Generations of them came to the US to support a growing Catholic population… perhaps they might yet rescue a Church in decline by raising their voices around a truly poor translation…

    1. Bill deHaas Avatar

      Mr. Sweet – actually the history of Irish priests and the Irish catholic culture is bittersweet in terms of US experience. Unfortunately, Irish priests (whether foreign born or 1st/2nd generation) make up over 1/3 of the priest pedophiles in the US and the percentage of Irish named bishops who covered up their misdeeds is very high.

      It detracts from the much more glorious history of strong Irish biships in the 19th century; great pastors who helped build both our school and hospital systems; defended the working class; women; and children when catholics were second class US citizens.

  11. John Nolan Avatar
    John Nolan

    Rita, reference your #8, it is my understanding that new Irish and Welsh versions will be translations from the English text rather than from the original Latin.

    1. Joe O'Leary Avatar
      Joe O’Leary

      Good God!

    2. Jordan Zarembo Avatar
      Jordan Zarembo

      I must agree with Joe — “double hop” translations produce even worse results regardless of the quality of the vernacular translation used.

      Other translations are also translated from the English. The current Japanese translation derives from the 1973 ICEL translation rather than MR 1970. I understand that Latin is especially foreign to Japanese syntax and semantics. More Japanese know English than Latin. Nevertheless this translation style amplifies the potential for awkwardness and confusion.

      Various bound parsers for the Greek New Testament exist. Many of these are keyed to important New Testament/Patristic Greek lexica such as the Bauer lexicon or its English translation (BAGD). Some of these parsers are marketed for missionaries who participate in New Testament translation projects. A Latin parser of the pauline Missale Romanum keyed to major Latin-English lexica (Lewis & Short, Oxford Latin Dictionary perhaps) could help translation groups for small language populations maintain a modicum of correspondence with the typical Latin text and major language missal translations.

  12. Bill deHaas Avatar

    Currently, in the Chicago Archdiocese, there is also an ACP. It was started by Chicago pastors/priests during the “reign” of Cardinal Cody. It hit its highpoint during its partnership with Cardinal Bernadin but, in the eyes of most priests, it has become a “lapdog” for Cardinal George and toothless.

    Here is a different viewpoint as expressed by Archbishop Dowling of South Africa as reported by Jim Martin, SJ:

    Excerpts – “Even on those topics — for example, the proper strategy for bishops to deal with Catholic politicians at odds with church teaching, the new translations of the Mass, the best way for priests to address complicated moral issues, and so on — the slightest whiff of disagreement is confused with disloyalty.

    Certainly disagreement with statements from Rome, even on non-dogmatic or non-doctrinal matters, is seen as close to heresy. As Bishop Dowling said:

    What compounds this [frustration over the church’s unwillingness to be critiqued], for me, is the mystique which has in increasing measure surrounded the person of the pope in the last 30 years, such that any hint of critique or questioning of his policies, his way of thinking, his exercise of authority etc. is equated with disloyalty. There is more than a perception, because of this mystique, that unquestioning obedience by the faithful to the pope is required and is a sign of the ethos and fidelity of a true Catholic. When the pope’s authority is then intentionally extended to the Vatican curia, there exists a real possibility that unquestioning obedience to very human decisions about a whole range of issues by the curial departments and cardinals also becomes a mark of one’s fidelity as a Catholic, and anything less is interpreted as being disloyal to the pope who is charged with steering the bark of Peter.

    Catholic theology considers him a successor to the apostles. For Christ’s sake (and I mean that literally) he’s not some lowly functionary or branch manager.”

  13. Fr Gabriel Burke Avatar

    The ACPi is not representative of Irish priests. In my own diocese 10 priest turned up for their meeting that is less than 1% of our clergy
    It has been similar in almost all diocese that they have entered.
    Believe it or not but most Irish priests have only a fleeting knowledge of the new translation. Unlike our American or UK brothers there has been no real preparation as yet for the introduction . The last official word from the Bishops came last summer which informed us that it will start in Advent of this year. The National Liturgy Secretariate has issued no guidelines or dates for an implementation programme. We believe the Publisher is Veritas but there is nothing so far on their website. I hate to say it but to the majority of Priests they have no opinion either way on the translation. What bothers them is just the fact of a change and the upheavel and expense it will bring.
    It is true to say the ACPI came about because of the scandals.Priest were feeling attacked The Old NCPI died out a few years ago. There has been no organisation representing priests. They ACPI was founded by well known “progressive” priests in Ireland who are all loved by the anti catholic media here. At their initial meeting there was 300 priests. When they published their manifesto that was the end of the ACPI as a representative group for all the clergy.

    1. George Andrews Avatar
      George Andrews

      Father Burke—It is true to say the ACPI came about because of the scandals—-

      Thanks Father! for rescuing Father R! I understand yours and his point now. Though I think ACP’s manifesto would have addressed the horrid behavior of clergy seducing teenage boys somewhere, if that it is really what ACP is about.

      As you point out, it’s seems to be more about trying to be ” loved by the anti-catholic media” at the expense of traditional Catholics.

      1. Joe O'Leary Avatar
        Joe O’Leary

        The new Association puts in a plea for priests unfairly tagged as pedophiles on the basis of fleeting indiscretions with older teenagers long in the past, and it also reminds priests that even jailed pedophiles are still their brothers.The Association wants above all to give priests a voice, but if it is true that only 1% of priests are drawn to it, then perhaps most priests prefer their cagey and comfortable silence. 1% or 10% — it is not quantity but prophetic quality that counts.

        “Trying to be loved by the anti-catholic media” — what piffle! Fr Brendan Hoban is the most vocal of its members and is himself a distinguished columnist in The Western People — he has never feared to be counter-cultural.

  14. Russell Pollitt SJ Avatar
    Russell Pollitt SJ

    Bravo Irish clergy! In other parts of the world the clergy have been either to apathetic or to divided to speak out. This is refreshing and immanently sensible.

  15. Joe O'Leary Avatar
    Joe O’Leary

    Yes, bravo! Could this be at last the still small voice that points out, unanswerably, that the Emperor has no clothes? Irish bishops are unhappy with the new translation too; perhaps they will take courage in their hands and imitate their German confreres — or live forever with the shame of having failed in their primary duty of supplying a meaningful liturgy to their flock.

    1. Jack Nolan Avatar
      Jack Nolan

      Reminds me of when the Irish (together with the Scottish, English & Welsh) bishops wanted to avoid using the existing ICEL/ICET ordinary back in 1974. They were the holdouts. The heavy Roman hand in the person of Cardinal Knox from the CDW made sure that they adopted the texts anyway & the ICEL texts were implemented in Britain by 1975. These claims that Roman intervention with national hierarchies is something new are difficult to accept when the histories are read.

      1. Paul Inwood Avatar
        Paul Inwood

        Jack, I think you’ve floated this assertion before. It is, alas, totally untrue.

      2. john robert francis Avatar
        john robert francis

        I second Paul Inwood. Cardinal James Robert Knox, a deeply conservative man, had nothing to do with IMPOSING the 1973 ICEL Missal on the conference of England and Wales. While there was some reluctance on the part of a few English bishops, the matter was eventually worked out within the conference. Rome did not intervene. The acceptance of the Missal by the conferences of Ireland and Scotland was from the first wholehearted.

      3. Jack Nolan Avatar
        Jack Nolan

        You say it is untrue without anything more than your assertion. Here is a quote from a bishop who was an eyewitness to the events of that day: “Is is disheartening to note that the bishops of Great Britain and Ireland, who for so long have held out against the imposition of the horrendous ICEL translation of the Mass, preferring the older, more accurate, and more beautiful version, have at last thrown in the sponge and conceded victory to the liturgical barbarians. So now the entire English-speaking world is forced, by hierarchical fiat, to endure the ….. (still existing) translation” (++RJ Dwyer of Portland, OR. 13 April, 1975 Nat. Cath. Register).
        ++Dwyer used many colorful terms to describe our current ICEL translation-expressions that are as severe as those critics of the new have used here. Assoc. of priests and laity all were active in objecting to the existing translation in the late 1960s-1970s, the only difference being that the upheaval was much more significant.
        And John, British/Irish acceptance of ICET was not from the beginning, the USA adopted them immediately along with some Protestant bodies (1970). By 1974 only the hierarchies in the UK and Ireland were still holding out. Alas, by March of 1975 the texts were made mandatory in Great Britain, five years later than “from the beginning”.

  16. Joe O'Leary Avatar
    Joe O’Leary

    Cardinal Wuerl affects total deafness to the unease generated by the new translation:

    1. Graham Wilson Avatar
      Graham Wilson

      Yes, let’s all drink the Kool Aid.

      1. G. Michael McGuire Avatar
        G. Michael McGuire

        It’s not His Eminence’s first pitcher of Kool Aid, Graham. If there’s anyone who ought to know all the ins and outs of the ecclesiastical politics that produced this translation, it has to be the man who got his start “taking care of” the Hunthausen “problem” in Seattle. The trick, apparently, is knowing about it, then slapping on that big [fill in the blanks] grin, and proclaiming that you’ve never seen anything quite as well done. Even when you know that, just to cite a few examples that have been referenced in articles on this website, “the immensity of your majesty” (Preface for Christ the King) is the first time since this Preface was published in 1925 that any English translator has opted for the cognate in translating “immensae” to produce that amusing Humpty Dumpty image; that Preface II for the Dead misses the Latin by a mile and produces a very comical English construction in the process; and that Preface VIII for Sundays in Ordinary Time starts out by making it sound as if Christ’s Blood and the Holy Spirit’s power have scattered God’s people and ends up fracturing the concluding verb form by inserting a seven word dependent clause in the middle of it.

        But for $22 you can have a book that will tell you we’ve never had anything quite so beautiful in the English language.

        And that, my friend, is how you get a red hat. May I have a refill on this Kool Aid, sir?

  17. julie kavanagh Avatar
    julie kavanagh

    Can I assure people that any tranlations of texts into the Irish language use the Latin editio typica as the base text. The coiste responsible for the task of tranlation has done tremendous work over the years, producing many ritual texts for use in Irish speaking faith communities. Unfortunately Rome hasn’t been quite as efficient – we still await approval for the Funeral Rites in Irish after many years. As far as I am aware, the coiste has completed its translation of the Roman Missal. As a country we do indeed have a rich tradition of words and language and this coiste has great internal expertise. I have seen them go about their work and when they meet they usually have two projectors in the room – one for the Latin text and the other for the Irish. I doubt whether English is even spoken at these meetings. I hope this brings clarification to one aspect of the conversation on translation!

    1. Elias Nasser Avatar
      Elias Nasser

      Julie, I found your statement “we still await (Vatican) approval for the Funeral Rites in Irish after many years” quite amusing.

      The Romans who know nothing (as do I) of the Gaelic language have to “approve” the Gaelic texts

      You have for me, summed up this farce quite clearly: a failure of delegation, of collegiality, of subsidiarity.

      But as my wise Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal Pell recently said: “‘The notion of subsidiarity is radically incompatible with the hierarchical and communitarian nature of the church,” he said. Its fundamental flaw, Pell said, is the assumption that “power comes from the people,” which is “not the case in the church.”’

      I think for Cardinal Pell, power is rightly exercised by the hierarchy over the docile faithful. Problem for Cardinal Pell is the “docile faithful” are laughing at him and leaving in droves

  18. Jeffrey Pinyan Avatar


    Note: It looks like the post I was responding to has been removed. Nevertheless, I think my comment stands on its own. I have edited it accordingly.

    There are some liturgical conservatives (like myself) who, while supporting the new translation in general, are uneasy about the process (especially the last 18-or-so months of it), and are disappointed in the direction it took since it left the hands of the bishops’ conferences in 2008.

    The instability of the Order of the Mass, for example, came as a surprise to me (who had already written a catechetical guide based on that 2008 translation). The peculiar word choices and confusing grammar seen in the final-latest-final translation leaves something to be desired — specifically, a better translation!

    There was time for corrective measures to be made (and I’d like to believe there still is time), but no, this text is now being pushed to publishers to get materials printed.

    This is what concerns me about the new translation. It had great potential back in 2008, but now things have taken an unfortunate turn… and the group of people responsible for it don’t seem to recognize that at all!

    1. Jeremy Stevens Avatar
      Jeremy Stevens

      Aw c’mon Jeffrey do like Michelle Romani and Father Goodwin who probably weren’t even around in the 60s tell you to do and come on board. No thinking now and if you do think don’t say anything. Might get you fired.

      1. Jeffrey Pinyan Avatar


        Could you please be less sarcastic and more constructive with your feedback? I’d like to have civil and charitable conversation about this.

  19. Fr Gabriel Burke Avatar

    Joe O leary wrote
    “Fr Brendan Hoban is the most vocal of its members and is himself a distinguished columnist in The Western People — he has never feared to be counter-cultural.”
    Thanks Joe for that laugh, I presume you are Joking.
    The western newpaper is like all local newspapers in Ireland ,emphasis on local and it uses locals to write for it. Practically every local newspaper has a clerical writer, you know that Joe as well as I do. Stop trying to make him more important than he already knows he is. Define counter culture. He is totally in line with the Liberal media, that is why he is loved by them. To proclaim Church teaching, that today in Ireland is being prophetic. Any priest who proclaims the Church’s teaching gets lambasted in the Irish Media
    As for your snide remark “then perhaps most priests prefer their cagey and comfortable silence.”we are too busy working in our parishes bringing the message of Christ to those around us. We, not the ACPi or Fr Hoban, are the prophetic ones working in the Vineyard, not looking for self glory and thinking we are so important everyone needs to consult us.
    Sorry for being so blunt but to most young priests ACPi are yesterdays men asking yesterday questions and answering with yesterday answers. We have moved on from the 60’s and 70’s, we are the children of that era and know it from first hand expereince, that is why we have rejected it.We are not nostalgic for the past nor trying to turn the clock back. We are were we are , we have a different experience of Church, You ,Fr Hoban and The ACPI will have to get used to that fact. If the ACPI offered priest an organisation that built up fraternity, that helped us live our celibate lives, or help us to understand more deeply the teaching of the Church then it might have far more members, otherwise it is an irrelevant talking shop.

    1. Jack Nolan Avatar
      Jack Nolan

      I wonder what the average age of the ACPI members are compared to the average age of Irish clergy as a whole? I also wonder if any ACPI member has responded to any pastoral requests to celebrate in the EF, maybe they provide training to Irish priests who need to brush up on the EF. After all, there have to be nearly as many Irish laity open to EF celebrations as there are laity truly concerned about what the ACPI calls “elitist sexist language” in the Holy Mass (

      Come to think of it, however, the latter concern must make them opposed to the existing ICEL version too, especially EP IV.

      ACPI – if you don’t like the new translation just celebrate in Latin or seek bi-ritual rights. Those are the best pastoral options, not kvetching. We really don’t need a Lefebvrism of the left.

  20. Fr. Jim Goodwin Avatar
    Fr. Jim Goodwin

    I notice that my comment was not posted or was removed. This is EXACTLY what I was talking about. “Progressives” complain that they are not being heard, but they refuse to hear anyone else. They are deaf to complaints about their high handedness. But complain that Rome acts in a high handed mannter. They viciously insult those they disagree with and then complain at the lack of civility. By silencing me how do you imagine I will treat the liturgist in my next parish when she complains? Think about it.

    1. Rita Ferrone Avatar
      Rita Ferrone

      Fr. Goodwin, PrayTell has a commenting policy. If your comment falls afoul of that policy it will be removed. It’s as simple as that.

      I find it strange that you should promise to avenge yourself on the liturgist in your parish if a comment of yours is removed on PrayTell. It doesn’t take much thought to conclude that your problem is not with progressives but with anyone who thwarts your will. You might also note that you have not been, as you claim, “silenced” by any means. Here you are commenting. Think about it.

    2. Jack Nolan Avatar
      Jack Nolan

      I wonder what you said Fr. Jim? The comments policy does exist but it seems to be applied a little bit unevenly. It is one aspect of this “vale of tears” in which we operate, I suppose. Critics of the hierarchical Church, sitting Cardinals, the new translation, traditional liturgy in general, and adherents of the EF in particular may post almost anything despite what appears to be a seeming lack of charity or lack of ecumenical sensitivity toward more traditional RCs and E. Orthodox/Eastern rite Catholics who continue to use highly traditional liturgical forms, recall that the criticisms of elevated & formal language would apply there too.

      The two comment policies that seem to be in play the most are:

      3. Be charitable and respectful. Personal attacks, libelous statements, and anything disrespectful or lacking in ecumenical sensitivity will be removed.

      This makes sense when applied evenly.

      4. Make an intelligent, constructive contribution. Comments which are uninformed or unconstructive to the discussion will be removed.

      #4 is exceedingly broad. A comment that one man perceives as erudite may appear to lack any constructive quality to another.

      Nevertheless, I know that this is the world in which we operate in the Church. Progressives control the apparatus in many ways and traditionalists sit at the margins.

      1. Karl Liam Saur Avatar
        Karl Liam Saur

        Mind you, there are a number of traditionally oriented blogs where there is a pretense of evenhandedness in moderation.

        IIRC, some of the unevenhandedness – at either pole – is designed to give marginal voices that have no other place to congregate and vent a bit. The idea is that it reminds people that “don’t forget, there are perspectives like this out there that y’all are going to have to deal with.” Giving space to this comes, of course, with two big risks: (1) the venting at the margins is usually of the self-undermining kind, and it provides wonderful caricatures to the opposing pole to fulminate about, and (2) moderators fritter away some trust of readers who are process-oriented progressives, as it were (there are people with traditional tastes in liturgical praxis who might be surprised to find out they are process-oriented progressives, but there you have it).

        It can help for moderators to be transparent about why they let certain posts remain that might be treated more severely if they came from the opposing perspective. That, btw, is a generic observation after years of participating in discussion boards since the days of the Usenet (sigh). It’s not directed at Ms Ferrone or Fr Ruff at all. Just a general observation.

        Moderation is hard work, and I don’t envy them that take the burden. It’s a fiduciary role of sorts.

        The cognitive blindspots balance out in the end.

  21. Joe O'Leary Avatar
    Joe O’Leary

    it was resolved at one of their early meetings.

  22. Joe O'Leary Avatar
    Joe O’Leary

    I need hardly defend Fr Hoban from Fr Burke — in addition to being a stirring columnist in the Western People he has written several books and contributed many important articles to The Furrow.

    His keynote speech at the first meeting of the Association is an important document. It puts the abuse scandals and the new translation at the head of the agenda:

    “We will be proactive in dealing with issues of concern to priests. Examples of this that come immediately to mind are:

    “(a) as an association we will request a meeting with the Visitors from Rome, in order to elicit their intentions and concerns and to communicate our response to them on behalf of the Association and we will be anxious to receive the views and concerns of our members.

    “(b) we intend to be proactive in representing the views of priests’ on the new English translation of the Mass.”

    See also this letter on the new translation:

  23. Joe O'Leary Avatar
    Joe O’Leary

    I am interested to see that Fr Burke is a codiocesan, ordained 24 years after me. I congratulate him on speaking up, though I think he underestimates of the wisdom of his seniors, whom he kindly calls “coffin-dodgers”.

    1. Joe O'Leary Avatar
      Joe O’Leary

      Oops, of course Carrigtwohill is Cloyne, not Cork & Ross (I’m dreaming).

  24. Joe O'Leary Avatar
    Joe O’Leary

    Shouldn’t he congratulate us on having so successfully dodged the coffin for so long (touch wood)?

  25. Joe O'Leary Avatar
    Joe O’Leary

    Now for the first time, I think, the missal translation hits the Letters column of The Irish Times:

    This will bring the problem to a wider audience.

  26. Joe O'Leary Avatar
    Joe O’Leary

    Msgr Dermot Lane, one of Ireland’s most respected senior theologians, closely associated with Dublin Archbishops, has forcefully called for rejection of the new missal:

  27. Fr Gabriel Burke Avatar

    ” Msgr Dermot Lane, one of Ireland’s most respected senior theologians,” Joe your really should be on the telly. You are great at making me laugh.

    It’s not difficult to be a senior theologian in Ireland . The pool of theologians in one of the smallest. Yes granted he was a very big fish in a very small pool. On an international scale I am afraid poor ould mons L does not even come on the radar. Joe you really have to be less insular and look around the world. I marvel when I travel to other countries and see the young vibrant churches coming out of the ashes. The new religious communities, the great movements, the many young families, they all have one thing in common, orthodoxy

    Mons Lane’s mantra when teaching us was to live is to change. The experience of myself and others who were taught by Dr Lane was one of fear. We had to tread very carefully and watch our p&qs. He was part of the great progressive clonliffe who expelled anyone who did not repeat what they were taught. Hardly the attributes of a great theologian.

    Joe you remember Cardinal Connell got rid of Mons Lane from Clonliffe and Mater Dei.

    By the way Joe the phrase coffin dodger came from one of our senior priests ordained over 50 years ago.

    The Irish Times THE most liberal newspaper of Ireland, great accolade

    1. Jack Nolan Avatar
      Jack Nolan

      Perhaps it is Msgr. Lane who is forgetting his own mantra “to live is to change”.

      1. F C Bauerschmidt Avatar
        F C Bauerschmidt

        I believe that mantra is borrowed from Blessed John Henry Newman.

    2. Joe O'Leary Avatar
      Joe O’Leary

      Dermot Lane did write some theological books widely used in the English speaking world, sales of one were more than 15,000 — astronomical for theology books. But as Dr Johnson remarked, “The Irish are a very honest people — they rarely speak well of one another”.

      1. Joe O'Leary Avatar
        Joe O’Leary

        Recte: “No, sir: the Irish are a fair people; — they never speak well of one another” – Feb 1, 1774.

  28. Fr Gabriel Burke Avatar

    Indeed it is, as Mons. Lane used to tell us. I doubt Blessed John meant it the same way as Mons Lane.

    1. Joe O'Leary Avatar
      Joe O’Leary

      Dermot Lane is a remarkably young, vocal and active theologian — so perhaps it’s not so much a question of age, which you seem obsessed with, as of spiritual renewal? He is a very good priest, who took up a parish at his bishop’s request — if Cardinal Connell thought he was in any way an unorthodox theologian, I can only surmise that this is another of that good man’s egregious misjudgments.

  29. Fr. Jim Goodwin Avatar
    Fr. Jim Goodwin

    Rita, I had to say something that would get your attention. Liturgists can be their own worst enemies. Apparently, as I said, those who demand that Rome listen to them are deaf to others. My main point was that, if you read other posts, there are several that impugn and attack those with more traditional leanings. Those got a pass from your commenting policy. Apparently those who would “thwart your will” don’t get a hearing. You are very selective in your attitude toward civility and charity. Your comment reveals you see this as a power issue. Why is that? Think about it.

    Jack, “uneven” is a bit of an understatement. I get very annoyed when someone demands to be heard in an uncharitable way and then deletes a post that calls them out on it. The “Kool Aid” remark is one example. If people want more “listening” then they had best be prepared to hear things they don’t want to hear. Actually traditional Catholics are no longer on the margins. That is the issue really. We are told to sit down, shut up, and do what the MA in Liturgy tells us. Now the tables have turned and we are told we have to suddenly give up and listen to the very people who won’t listen to anyone else. That isn’t going to happen. I am fine if they apply their policy evenly. But I doubt that will happen. I suppose I will have to forgo posting on this blog. However, there are many many others out there who think as I do and we notice the double standard. The “progressives” certainly didn’t win me over to their way of thinking. I would love to see one apologize for their treatment of traditional Catholics over the years and then actually listen thoughtfully to their concerns. I haven’t seen that even once.

    1. Claire Mathieu Avatar
      Claire Mathieu

      On principle I am suspicious of comment removal. It gives unlimited power to the moderators. For a blog that is an advocate of transparency, I would like a mechanism that would enable us to better know what is going on behind the scenes. For example, if a deleted comment does not disappear but has its text replaced by “comment deleted”, then at least we know that moderation happened. Right now it’s all invisible, and so we have no way to invalidate Fr Goodwin’s suspicions.

  30. Todd Flowerday Avatar

    I think there can be a distinction with handling commentators. Anonymous people should be treated with more vigor if they trespass.

    As long as a person is willing to sign a name, e-mail address, and web site, my sense is that a comment should stay up. If an element of a posting is severely out-of-bounds, I prefer to edit the offending words, but only as a last resort.

    As far as Fr Jim’s issues with progressive liturgists, they seem more an aspect of a personal subjective experience, not a liturgical or theological one.

    As a second-generation liturgist, I’d have to say my elder brothers and sisters don’t always treat newcomers well. And sometimes closer allies are mistreated more than ideological opponents.

    But the truth is that many progressives implemented Vatican II quite well, and most Catholics are satisfied. As for the notion of traditionalism in ascendancy, I don’t see that they’ve learned the lessons any better than the last generation.

  31. Karl Liam Saur Avatar
    Karl Liam Saur

    Oh. “Fleeting indiscretions.” My.

    That kind of phrasing is a red flag here in the Boston area for self-serving rhetoric of the clerical club. It says “oh, you people who are not members of the club just wouldn’t understand, you’re too damn [insert negative adjective of choice] to understand this kind of thing, don’t be so judgmental” et cet. It’s like when Rome says things intended to have a similar effect – the two things are quite related, even if those who say them think they are not.

    Priests are entitled to due process. That’s what needs to be said. However, passing off “fleeting indiscretions” is quite the wrong way to go about that. Unintentionally, it screams “don’t trust us.”

  32. john robert francis Avatar
    john robert francis

    Jack Nolan:
    You report that Archbishop Robert Dwyer of Portland, Oregon, USA (not to be confused with Archbishop George Dwyer of Birmingham, England) regretted acceptance of the ICEL translation of the 1973 Missal by the conferences of England and Wales and of Ireland. It is well known that Archbishop R. Dwyer was unhappy with many of the decisions related to implementing the Council, and wrote often in The National Catholic Register of his lack of sympathy with such decisions. He resigned his See some years before reaching 75. How he came to be an expert on the decisions and discussions of conferences other than his own, I have no way of knowing. Is it possible that his own disappointments led him to overstate what was going on elsewhere? In any case, you said that Rome (specifically, Cardinal James Knox) had imposed the translation on E&W. You provide no evdence for this. Instead, as elsewhere, you bring Archbishop Dywer forth as though that settles the matter.

    Yes, the US (as well as Canada and The Philippines) accepted an earlier version of the ICET texts than did the other eight conferences in ICEL. The simple reason for this was that the US was ahead of other conferences in the publication of the Missal. Just as with the ICEL texts, so with the ICET texts, all the conferences were free to accept or reject them. In the end, they all accepted both, and the Holy See confirmed their canonical decisions. No doubt, Archbishop Dwyer, now long in heaven, was unhappy with these developments. As you are also. But I don’t think that disappointments allow us to re-write history.

    In an earlier post on another topic, you said that ICEL in 1973 as well as 1998 avoided using the word “grace.” In a five-minute random check of ’73 and an equally rapid look at ’98, I found several uses in each, two of the opening greetings being the most obvious. continued —

  33. john robert francis Avatar
    john robert francis


    1973 (“grace”): two opening greetings; preface for Lent II; two instances in the Blessing of Water at the Easter Vigil.

    1998 (“grace”): the same two opening greetings; in each of the three (two, translated; one, original) Opening Prayers for Good Friday; the Prayer after Communion for Christmas, Mass at Dawn; the Opening Prayer for the Second Sunday of Easter.

    Further, you indicated in the same post that ICEL avoided supplicatory language in 1973 and also largely in 1998. In both instances, in the long and short conclusions, we find the words “We ask this through ….” As the Lord said: “Ask the Father in my name”; “ask and you shall receive.” I realize that the Latin (where it has a supplicatory phrase and not simply the imperative) uses more fulsome expressions than the Scriptures (including the psalms). Yet, however well these phrases work in Latin, I believe that they are often interruptive of both the thought and the needed rhythmic patterns in English. My greatest disappointment with 2008/2010 is their failure to respect the natural rhythms and cadences of the literate language. Not in every case, but in far too many, they are ungainly imitations of Latin rhetoric. Failed English results in failed prayer for the one proclaiming as well as, even more so, for the one hearing.

    A blessed Sunday and kindest wishes.


    1. Jack Nolan Avatar
      Jack Nolan

      You would have to compare the usages of words like “grace” with their appearances in the Latin original together with expressions of supplication to discern whether or not they had been suppressed in the existing ICEL translation. The Roman criticisms of the ICEL submissions echo that point and their sudden appearance in the new missal illustrate it.

      1. Joe O'Leary Avatar
        Joe O’Leary

        Mouthing about “grace” is a very shallow reaction to perceived threats of “Pelagianism”. In fact the accusations that the 1973 translations are Pelagian and have the community worshiping itself, etc., are risible.

  34. Kevin Aldrich Avatar
    Kevin Aldrich

    To quote the ACP, “In the words of Bishop Donald Trautman, former chair of the United States Bishops’ Liturgical Committee, this is a translation where “the vocabulary is not readily understandable by the average Catholic. .. how can someone read the text in public when some of the sentences contain 70 or 80 words.”


    And this smack down of horribly-long seventy-word sentences is how long? Forty-nine words! That’s only twenty-one words less than the kind of sentence the ACP hates. So, ACP, just when does a sentence become too long for ordinary people to understand?

  35. Jan Jans Avatar
    Jan Jans

    Isn’t is clearly written on the wall: with this new translation of the Roman Missal a vital step is made to further implement the long overdue reform of the reform, also known as ‘affirmative orthodoxy’. It is about the dignity and majesty of the language of the Most Holy Liturgy which will very soon be celebrated in Sacred Langlish ©TM. But: why stop there? It ought not to be the case that the blissful effects of this Sacred Langlish ©TM are spoiled by the homily being delivered in familiar sounding dreadful and ghastly secular English? So: a new rule ought to be implemented and imposed as soon as possible: all homilies must first be written in Latin and next, following the rules of the Roman Missal, be translated into Sacred Langlish ©TM! Better even, in a second move (mind you: the reform of the reform should continue at all costs): all homilies will be provided by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, right away in official glorious Sacred Langlish ©TM! Impossible to count the blessings, including the totally spontaneous re-evangelisation of the Northern Third World (including, of course, Ireland)!

    Jan Jans

    1. Joe O'Leary Avatar
      Joe O’Leary

      Jan Jans, indeed it is worrying that priests are allowed to speak freely from the pulpits, propagating all sorts of crypto-Pelagian if not Modernist notions. It’s an excellent idea to produce a set of standard sermons for all 52 Sundays, to be delivered, in approved translations or in the original Latin, at all Masses throughout the world.

    2. Graham Wilson Avatar
      Graham Wilson

      “Sacred Langlish ©TM”


  36. Jack Nolan Avatar
    Jack Nolan

    A beautiful sentiment Chris. Well put.

    I too would like to see the EP together with the per ipsum said with the priest and people facing the same direction, just as the existing rubrics envision us to be doing anyway.

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