The controversial new translation of the Roman Missal was introduced in the Catholic Church in New Zealand in September by first implementing the Order of Mass with the people’s parts. The proper texts of the priest will come into use at Pentecost.
The editors of the New Zealand Catholic are making a valiant effort to promote the translation (e.g. the editorial “New English requires an honest effort,” February 13), but the letters to the editor are running solidly negative. Since late December 2010, only one letter to the editor has been somewhat supportive. Bernice Keenan wrote in the Dec. 25-Jan. 29 issue:
I am pleased with the new translation of the Mass text… I have to think a bit more about the responses and forge new habits, and that’s fine.
But she says of the implementation:
I believe the imposition of the new version was a false step initially. It has led to disunity in the wider Catholic community. This is particularly evident at weddings and funerals with other Christians and/or lapsed Catholics.
She also objects to the inclusion of two options for the wording of the Lord’s Prayer:
The Lord’s Prayer, which should be a point of familiarity and connections becomes the opposite.
This is the closest thing to support in any readers’ letters.
Three critical letters appeared in the Jan. 30-Feb. 12 issue. Teresa Homan writes, referring to “I” replacing “We” in the creed,
I fail to see how this translation is more meaningful, but I see how individualistic it requires my faith to be. It would be good, also to understand the meaning behind the words “come under my roof.” What “roof”? My house roof, the church roof, the roof of my mouth? Likewise, perhaps a dictionary meaning beside the word consubstantial for the ordinary folk may assist our understanding.
Tony Scott writes in the same issue:
Just take the word “men” in contrast to “us all.” Surely there is a sense of exclusion there. Perhaps some obscure group of theologians can interpret it to include all mankind, but the ordinary person accepts it as meaning what it says – “men” denotes members of the male sex. It smacks of being a long-past historical attitude that prevailed when women were not counted… It can only be regarded with regret that so much time and resources were poured into this venture by the Church when there are so many causes crying out for attention.
Patricia Minehan writes:
These changes of wording in the Mass liturgy are, for many of us, frustrating and backward in thinking. For the resultant text, was the time and cost expended truly merited?… Will these latest changes increase our devotion, enlarge our congregations, or inspire our youth? We have no such expectations and we wonder where our priorities lie.
In the Feb. 13-16 issue the paper ran an editorial by Fr. Peter Janssen, “New translation of the Mass superior in many ways.” He argues that the new translation is more accurate and that it is superior to the current translation in its style, register, formality, and other literary features. This give the new text its “attitude, depth, timelessness, and, eventually, effectiveness.” He states:
A full appreciation of the improvements will have to wait until the collects, prefaces, and other prayers said by the priest are promulgated later this year.
The same issue has a letter by June Macmillan:
The recent return to the pre-Vatican II concepts in the Sunday Eucharist has left me feeling deceived and confused… For a short 50 years, courtesy of Vatican II, we were permitted to be the people of God, made so by the format of our Sunday Eucharist, both in word and action. In one short year the work done by the Council has been negated…
Referring to “for us men and our salvation,” she writes:
We women must now adjust our sights to being servants of man, and his salvation, yet again… If the promulgation of Vatican II laid down the foundation of the future Church, how come some 50 years on some lesser body of officials can negate the bishops’ vision of the Church as communio and regress the pattern to the pre-Vatican II perception that men and their salvation are what the Church is authentically about?
Thanks to Rev. Bosco Peters of the Liturgy blog for sending us the letters.