And so it begins…

June 11, 2011: Pentecost Sunday (vigil) in a local western Sydney parish brought with it the first in-liturgy use of the new translation. Members of the assembly listened ahead of Mass as the liturgy coordinator reminded them that today was when we would begin using the prayer-cards found in the pews to aid us in praying the new translation. The assembly’s new responses would also be flashed up at the appropriate times on the overhead screen. The parish leadership team had made the decision to introduce all of the new text in one hit. For some weeks prior, the parish priest had taken a little time after the homily to give the assembly an opportunity to practice reading through its new prayer-responses together, which meant these were not completely unfamiliar to those gathered.

The nervous parish priest did his best to pray the still unfamiliar presidential texts (including Eucharistic Prayer III), stumbling over the wording from time to time, head buried in the folder holding the new translation. His optimistic ‘let’s have a go’ attitude helped the assembly to do just that in this liturgy. His acknowledgment that this was going to take some getting used to for everyone, permitted the assembly to learn in situ and to make mistakes without being overly concerned, as it was a first-time through. Heads were buried in pew-cards and there was some fumbling as people learned when they would need the new text in front of them and when it was unnecessary. Because only some of the assembly’s responses were different, while others remained the same, confusion as to what exactly had been changed, remained. At times there was a smattering of simultaneously prayed old/new responses as habit and familiarity overruled even the best intention to try the new translation. Most people kept the prayer-card handy throughout the liturgy up to the Sign of Peace and Lamb of God. Because the Lamb of God was unchanged, most did not realise that the Ecce Agnus Dei and response would be different, and the only two voices in the church that spoke the final “and my soul shall be healed” were those of the 2 liturgists present – everyone else had prayed the old translation and finished earlier.

How much actual praying went on for much of this liturgy was hard to say as levels of discomfort and unfamiliarity prevailed among the assembly, except during the readings and those parts of the translation that remained unchanged. When a group knows that something is different but is not exactly sure of when the next different part is to come, uncertainty is only to be expected. This uncertainty will lessen as the assembly gains confidence in the new translation with practice. The liturgy had more of a feeling of ‘classroom’ than prayer-event at times. There was muted conversation among the assembly throughout much of the liturgy, as well as lots of shifting in place, movement of prayer-cards, and a distinct lack of unison in the spoken responses (especially in the Nicene Creed). It will take time and repetition for the local assembly to find its new prayer rhythm with these texts.

Fortunately the new musical settings of the Ordinary had been introduced during the first 6 months of the year, and the assembly was finding its way to confidence with elements of those sung prayers. Higher levels of familiarity with these musical settings will take more time and repetition to attain. Wisely, given all that was new in this liturgy, the hymns chosen for the liturgy were very familiar to the assembly and it was during the singing of these hymns that the full confident voice of the church at prayer could be heard.

Overall, this was a fair attempt for a first-try at praying this text by the local parish. It would have been very interesting to hear the content of the muted conversations that accompanied its praying.





78 responses to “And so it begins…”

  1. Ray Marshall Avatar
    Ray Marshall

    “The nervous parish priest did his best to pray the still unfamiliar presidential texts (including Eucharistic Prayer III), stumbling over the wording from time to time, head buried in the folder holding the new translation.”

    Maybe priests should take reading lessons? This is in English, for goodness sake!

    1. Clare Johnson Avatar
      Clare Johnson

      One thing that must be remembered is that for many priests, (in increasing numbers in Australia these days), English is not their first language. Stumbles are to be expected for a while.

    2. Msgr. Andrew G. Varga Avatar
      Msgr. Andrew G. Varga

      Ah yes… all reading is equal, but some reading is more equal than others…
      Consider 4 levels/types of reading:
      –Recitation (reading out loud)
      –Proclamation (much more measured and disciplined)
      –Group Proclamation/Choral Speech
      Each one demands a different kind of skill to make the written text intelligible.
      Lessons in PROCLAMATION are needed!

  2. Mary Wood Avatar
    Mary Wood

    Yes, if it had been translated from Portuguese with a dictionary, it could be described as ENGLISH AS SHE IS SPOKE. No such excuse available.

  3. Jeffrey Herbert Avatar

    Aside from some of the editorial comments, this actually sounds like a description of a quite good beginning. Given that this parish makes use of a projection system, I would have to assume that they are accustomed to following along with text, so that was probably an advantage.

    Of course there was some fumbling and missed cues, and there would be a lot of fooling around with pew cards and talking during Mass on any given Sunday in most places, so not much news in that!

    1. BRIGID M RAUCH Avatar

      My parish doesn’t have pew missals, only a hymn book. No fumbling around, for now!

  4. Mary Wood Avatar
    Mary Wood

    There’s a comment on an Australian website about a parish where this was introduced this morning

    See the comment by RAMBLER 19.32

    1. Jeffrey Pinyan Avatar

      The prayers I have been praying for over forty years will do me until I die.

      Is the same courtesy extended to those who can honestly say they’d been praying the older form of Mass?

      All this blather we hear about “simple” people, why the big words?

      What blather is being referred to?

      If we must be authentic, why not say homoousios?

      I doubt PatrickW actually wants to pray the Creed in Greek.

      I object […] to the use of [masculine and] feminine pronouns for God. What is wrong with God or God’s?

      Pronouns exist for a reason, so that the noun doesn’t need to be used over and over again.

      “for us MEN” and we could shout out and WOMEN! […] if we are all classified as male then why can’t women be ordained?

      That argument assumes “men” means only “male humans” when it doesn’t have to (although it can mean that).

      We gave the Nicene Creed a miss and went to the Apostle’s Creed but I didn’t see anyone bowing as per the provided instruction card…

      Something that people should have been doing for years now. The bow (or genuflect) rubric during the Creed isn’t new to the new translation… but I wonder if the laity (or clergy) know that.

      I’m surprised they didn’t try to change the Lord’s Prayer, there are couple of versions in the Bible, I think.

      This goes to show how hard it is to please everyone… some say the Our Father should be re-translated, others are surprised it hasn’t been changed (given everything else being changed).

      1. Joe O'Leary Avatar

        It’s no use quarreling with the discontented laity. And it is pretty snotty to expect them to be experts of praytellblog vintage in order to be entitled to express their anger and disappointment. They are the customers and we have given them a shoddy product. The only way you can drown out their voices is to find those of the contented laity. So far I do not hear any voices of contentment.

      2. John Drake Avatar
        John Drake

        I’m content, Joe, I’m content! And looking forward to November 27th!

      3. Joe O'Leary Avatar
        Joe O’Leary

        John Drake, again I ask: why? Do you really like the langauge of the new Prefaces? And if so, why? Or has your contentment nothing to do with language?

  5. Joe O'Leary Avatar

    The Australian comments linked to by Mary Wood are all negative, some violently so. Just as predicted. Let’s see if some genuinely positive responses emerge (from actual participants).

    1. Jeffrey Herbert Avatar


      Are you implying that the negative comments on the website are not. actual. participants? Or are you saying that there will be few positive comments from actual participants?

      1. G. Michael McGuire Avatar
        G. Michael McGuire

        Say, Jeffrey! Slumming again with us purveyors of “intellectual flatulence”?

        I refer, of course, to what you think of us, as you mentioned at The Chant Cafe the other day:

        “All it takes to carry on a conversation at Pray Tell is some patience, sympathy and an online dictionary of ‘words that sound like you know what you’re talking about’ so that you can decipher the less coherent postings. If there is a finer example of the intellectual flatulence that passes for academia anywhere online, I have yet to find it. (Well, OK… there is the HuffPo… but let’s limit the scope to our field of interest!)”

      2. Rita Ferrone Avatar
        Rita Ferrone

        What? Did someone use a word he didn’t know?
        Really, now we’ll all suspect he’s humoring us if he is ever patient and sympathetic.

      3. Joe O'Leary Avatar

        I am certainly implying the latter, but not the former.
        I am also implying that desperate apologists will jump in making positive comments and trashing the participants’ own experience.

      4. Jeffrey Herbert Avatar

        G. Michael…

        Actually I was just asking asking Joe to to clarify his statement, and once again I run into the aforemenioned ill-wind emitted by some here. And if you consider this place a slum, I suppose that tells a little about one’s self-image now, doesn’t it?

        I don’t think you’re pointing out anything new if you’re attempting to show that I’m actually in disagreement with a great many of the views expressed here… that should be pretty clear to everyone here. But since it is a “Great Big Love Ball” here at Pray Tell, and I haven’t been blocked yet, I mustn’t have crossed the line yet, and until I do I expect you will continue to try and let everyone know that I’m not on their side of the issue, which has probably already been made clear by the fact that I post comments that generally disagree with them. And so I conclude that you feel that most here are unable to figure that out for themsleves, which takes us full circle to the comment of mine which you quoted…

        Joe at 6:50… Thank you, that is what I was trying to figure out from your comment. Given my experience with introducing the new translation to real people at our workshops and seminars and the actual feedback I have received from those people, I still think you’re espousing a view that is not entirely founded in reality. While there is obviously considerable opposition in some circles, the faithful out in the pews don’t seem to be a part of that circle by and large. The widespread opposition that is apparently hoped for just isn’t materializing. If there were any evidence of it I would be open to seeing the issue in that light.

    2. G. Michael McGuire Avatar
      G. Michael McGuire


      I wasn’t “attempting to show” anything . . . Disagreement is one thing; utter contempt quite another. That’s what you have for this blog, as you expressed it very clearly at The Chant Cafe. And I wasn’t “attempting to show” it; I just quoted you, and that DOES show it.

      And I can’t imagine anyone accusing you of having anything to to with a “Great Big Love Ball.” Years ago, an elderly pastor I knew used to say, “Church musicians are God’s way of shortening Purgatory for everyone else in the building. They don’t call it the SACRIFICE of the Mass for nothing.”

      In my youth I thought he was being negative. In fact, he was a very wise man.

      1. Jeffrey Herbert Avatar

        Now that you’ve drawn me into a tit-for-tat which, if you look back over the last few posts to my original query directed to Joe after which you jumped in and made an unsolicited personal attack on me (I do wonder why you didn’t comment over at Chant Cafe…hmm.. safe haven and all I guess) was started with your “tit”, I think that utter contempt might not be a quite strong enough term.

        And no, so far nobody except my very dear wife has used the words “Great Big Love Ball” in connection with me, although I’m disappointed that you didn’t get the reference…probably my fault since the actual name of the song is “Bright, Giant Love Ball”. A long-time favorite of mine from my early days as a music minister.

  6. Philip Endean SJ Avatar
    Philip Endean SJ
    1. Elias Nasser Avatar
      Elias Nasser

      Fr Philip, “The Australian” is stacked with adoring fans of Cardinal George Pell and is owned by Rupert Murdoch, papal knight (such were the size of his monetary contributions to the Vatican)

      The paper runs at a loss but for Rupert this doen’t matter. It provides a focus for his extremist right wing agenda. The paper has a symbiotic relationship with Cardinal Pell.

      Pell regularly announces how climate change is a joke (which suits Murdoch’s political agenda) and Murdoch provides a a space where Pell’s adoring fans sing his praises.

      The author of the piece you link to has also written a hagiography on George Pell which has probably sold, maybe 4 copies (tongue in cheek but you get my drift).

      So as you rightly point out, this piece in “The Australian” is there purely as a propaganda piece.

    2. Henry Edwards Avatar
      Henry Edwards

      It has the ring of truth, so perhaps the source does not suffice to impugn it. What’s the old saying? “Truth in the mouth of a liar is still truth.” (Or in modern terms, truth is still truth, even if found in the NYT or heard on FNS, depending on taste.)

      The reason this Australian report has the “ring of truth” to me is not because of either my personal view or those I’ve seen expressed in blogs (most of which should be discounted as being outliers at one extreme or the other).

      But what I keep seeing at ground level. For instance, a local parish that devoted five consecutive weekly evening sessions to the new translation. No complaints, much enthusiasm. Same as I’ve heard from other parishes. Of course, in some parishes no one cares enough to even talk about it, and in these there may be largely indifference. But those expecting some groundswell of discontent are cave-dwellers who need to get out and go to Mass in a real parish every now and then.

      1. Jeffrey Herbert Avatar


        I know I’ve said the same many times over and again, but this has been my experience over the past year through all of the Diocesan workshops I have conducted and through conversation with parishioners from across the Diocese. I often, like you apparently, wonder where some of these folks go to church. I can’t picture a parish in which even maybe 10%, let alone the “overwhelming number” so oft quoted (which I would take to mean more than 80% or so) of the parishioners would have any kind of serious objection to the new translation, notwithstanding the intitial “why are they changing it” response which is to be expected. My parish, like most in SW Florida, is something of a nationwide cross section with parishioners from all across the country… the only thing overwhelming at our last (April 9th) workshop was curiosity and an appreciation for the assistance with implementing the new translation in their parishes.

  7. Fr Gabriel Burke Avatar

    I have used the new translation of the Eucharistic prayer on and off for the last year. I have had no difficulty reading the prayer. The congregation had no difficulty with the prayer. All the comments I received were positive and the majority of those who did comment were women.

    1. Joe O'Leary Avatar

      “All the comments” — about 4? Were they “quietly appreciative”, to use Cardinal Pell’s phrase — namely, diplomatic humoring, telling father what he wants to hear…

      1. Simon Ho Avatar
        Simon Ho

        I’m not sure why you would be so cynical. In my culture, being “quietly appreciative” would be quite usual.

        Are you the type that have prophesied disaster and would only be happy if you witness disaster? The ones that someone has said “are happy only when other people are unhappy”?

      2. Joe O'Leary Avatar

        Given the loud noises made by the Pellites about an alleged warm reception, I think it is indicated to suspect that “quietly appreciative” is not a confident litotes but a suggestio falsi.

        If the people are happy, let them show it!

      3. Fr Gabriel Burke Avatar

        Sorry to burst your bubble Joe O Leary. Over the last year
        I would put the comments somewhere in the 50s. None of
        the comments were solicited. If you knew me or my parishioners you would know that humouring does not come into the equation. Just ask your friends in Cork.
        What I find humorous is that you give one comment from a female in Australia a lot of credence but not to the comments given to me. Could it be the Australian women agrees with your line on the new translation.
        Like most modernists you listen attentively to those who agree with you and brush off all those who don’t. No wonder you are a fan of the ACPI their leadership have been doing the same for years

      4. Claire Mathieu Avatar
        Claire Mathieu

        Like most modernists you listen attentively to those who agree with you and brush off all those who don’t.

        Why only modernists? I see that all over the place. I’d rather write:
        “Like most men you listen attentively to those who agree with you and brush off all those who don’t.”

      5. Claire Mathieu Avatar
        Claire Mathieu

        “Like all men…”

        As surely every reader realizes, here “all men” means “all people”, men and women alike. No reason for men to feel slandered.

    2. Joe O'Leary Avatar
      Joe O’Leary

      Newsworthy indeed that 50 lay people mostly women greet the new translations (unfazed, I suppose, by “all men”). If that pattern holds throughout the Church, then the new translations will have been a success of sorts. (Personally, I prefer more traditional language, provided it is beautiful.)

      There is no need to throw the slur of “modernist” around — I suppose like Mr Voris, whom you post on your website, you think the celebration of Garrett Fitzgerald’s funeral was some kind of modernist betrayal.

      1. Fr Gabriel Burke Avatar

        In the real world most women are unfazed by the reference
        to all men. The only complaints I have heard about the word men in the liturgy were from religious and some priests. Most women are too busy juggling with the problems of life to worry about the word men. Especially in my parish which is made up mainly of young families. They are more concerned with paying mortgages and utility bills.
        Interesting you consider modernist a slur.
        Why would I think that Garret Fitzgerald’s funeral was a modernist betrayal? Do you mean the funeral itself or the way it was carried out. Gareth Fitzgerald as a Catholic is entitles to a Catholic funeral. His funeral was like any other funeral in Dublin these days , a type of mini canonisation. That’s just the way it is in Dublin, he received nothing more or less than your average person. I prefer to pray for the person at their funeral and encourage others to pray for their soul.

      2. Joe O'Leary Avatar
        Joe O’Leary

        So you are saying that your congregation are worried about more important things than the language of the liturgy — don’t you see how this undercuts the value of the positive judgments from them that you made so much of.

      3. Joe O'Leary Avatar
        Joe O’Leary

        If you don’t think Garret Fitz’s funeral was a modernist betrayal, why do you give publicity to the views of Voris, who does?

      4. Simon Ho Avatar
        Simon Ho

        Joe, that’s not what Fr Burke said. He’s saying that the women are too busy worrying about practical matters than to be angry with the inclusive use of the word “men”.

        That’s my experience too. Most people are actually not bothered by “man” or “men” used inclusively. In fact, my school has a course “Man and Ideas”; two-thirds of the students are girls and no one thought the girls were excluded.

      5. Joe O'Leary Avatar
        Joe O’Leary

        If women are too busy to fret about the restoration of “all men”, then is it not also likely that they are too busy to notice the quality of the new translation; if so, their commendation of it has little value; it is not based on the kind of assessment that requires time and attention.

      6. Mary Coogan Avatar
        Mary Coogan

        Simon Ho writes, “Joe, that’s not what Fr Burke said. He’s saying that the women are too busy worrying about practical matters than to be angry with the inclusive use of the word ‘men’. That’s my experience too.”

        What is the “inclusive use” that you imagine the word ‘men’” has–or ever had? Is it so inclusive that it includes non-men? Does it include me? Am I one of the men posting here? If man is a mammal and if mammals have mammary glands and if you are a man, then you have mammary glands, don’t you? If all women are men and if I am a woman, then I am a man! Can’t you recognize an oxymoron when you read it? Are you truly capable of pretending that “because I am a woman, I am a man” makes any sense at all? “Man” cannot clearly refer to the class of male human beings or to individual males if you insist that it also refer to female human beings or individual females. If women are too busy to decry this atavistic nonsense, well you certainly should protest the lack of clarity and pressure to pretend against common sense itself that this nonsense introduces into the sacred liturgy. You do not need to be a woman to know that women are not men.

      7. Claire Mathieu Avatar
        Claire Mathieu

        In the real world most women are unfazed by the reference to all men.

        Here is what the US bishops had to say about this 30 years ago, in their wonderful text “Fulfilled in your hearing” about homiletics.
        “Even in parishes that are more or less uniform […], there is great diversity: men and women, […]. Such diversity is a constant challenge to the preacher, for our words can all too easily be heard as excluding one or the other segment of the congregation. We may not mean to ignore the presence of women when we say “Jesus came to save all men”, but if exclusion is heard, then exclusion is communicated, whether intended or not. […] The revising stage [of the homily] is one of the most important […] To revise is frequently to cut: […] the references to “he” and “men” when the words are meant to include everyone.”

      8. Mary Coogan Avatar
        Mary Coogan

        Realizing that I wrote my recent words with animus, I’d like to explain.

        Years ago, as a university night student, I worked days for a prominent NYC consulting firm that sold other companies subscriptions to its economic reports. One day, the president of 3M (Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing) was visiting as a prospective client. 3M had recently expanded its manufacturing to include such items as photocopy machines. Our president had shown him a report in which the 3M president was interested, so our pres asked his secretary to photocopy the report for the 3M pres. When she returned with the photocopies, she handed them to the gentleman and said, “Here are your Xeroxes, Mr. President.” Of course, our company lost the 3M account.

        When Scotch tape succeeds in replacing the generic “cellophane tape” with its own name, it becomes the paradigm of cellophane tapes. When “Kleenex” is our way of referring to facial tissues, Kleenex is the paradigmatic tissue, ditto for Sanka decaf, Coke, and many other brand names. So let’s ask what the motivation can be for insisting that “man” is a generic word that includes all members of the species “human.” Are we not thinking that “man” (which can refer clearly only to males) denotes the paradigm case of its kind?

        How many centuries have passed since Galileo demonstrated that the sun does not rise? Yet still we speak of “sunrise.” Why? Read Brecht’s Galileo, the speech of the Old Cardinal, to see why we refuse to relinquish this word, which we all know falsifies the phenomenon. If I am at the center of the universe, then the eyes of the Creator are directly upon me, and I am the paradigm of Creation. “Man” in its alleged gender-neutral sense is likewise motivated and likewise deluded. And that’s why women should be angry about RM2011 and some on PrayTell blog continuing to pretend that “man” is a generic word. “What a piece of work is a man” as Hamlet exclaims. With credit…

      9. Mary Coogan Avatar
        Mary Coogan

        . . . to Janice Moulton and other feminist philosophers who explained all of this way back in the 1970s.

      10. Mary Burke Avatar
        Mary Burke

        “ACPI their leadership have been doing the same for years”

        That’s a very interesting comment by Fr Gabriel Burke. Especially since the ACPI was founded only last year. Taking liberties with truth, I think it’s called.
        His pompous reply to Joe O’Leary and his boast about having consulted 50 of the faithful are curious, to say the least. Anecdotal evidence suggests that quite a number of people have stopped attending Mass in Carrigtwohill.
        His remarks that his name has been misinterpreted is hilarious.

  8. BRIGID M RAUCH Avatar

    “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit
    and began to speak in different tongues,
    as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.”

    “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit
    and began to speak in different tongues,
    as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.”

    Some one in Australia has a wicked sense of humor!

  9. Joe O'Leary Avatar

    Is this Babel Sunday?

  10. Harry DeMaio Avatar
    Harry DeMaio

    I’m late to this discussion but I have seen nothing about the magnitude and value of lost opportunities for enhancing the Church’s mission, Mass attendance, school support, charity activity and programs to cut membership erosion that will not happen due to the time, treasure and talent devoted to this new liturgical parody. It is a classic example of willful disregard for the true needs of the Church by an autocracy intent on having its own wayand priorities. In short, anti stewardship! The true meaning of stewardship is the exercise of care over those things for which one is responsible. Are you listening Hierarchy and Magisterium?

    1. Simon Ho Avatar
      Simon Ho

      Judas was upset that the nard the silly woman poured on Jesus’ feet could have been used to help the poor too.

      And perhaps, some of the effort and time are spent as a result of objections from some quarters. If everyone were as united around the Hierarchy as St Ignatius would have liked it, much less effort might have been needed!

      But seriously, what makes you so sure that a revised translation is not indeed a true need of the Church at this time?

      1. Harry DeMaio Avatar
        Harry DeMaio

        Thanks Simon for comparing me to Judas. What makes me upset is that on a relative scale- shortage of priests, closing of churches and schools, ineffective homilies, participation at Mass at 23% and dropping,- a revised translation which in itself may be innocuous (personally, I don’t care if the whole Mass is intoned in Aramaic for authenticity’s sake) should have much lower priority when it comes to sucking up the scarce time and energy of the clergy and laity Prediction: The new liturgy will become excuse number one for more Catholics to leave the Church. Or putting it another way what problem gets solved. Hasn’t God understood us all these years??

      2. Simon Ho Avatar
        Simon Ho

        I think you pointed out correctly that people who claim to leave the Church because of the new translation of Mass do so only because it’s an excuse. They’re not being completely truthful and should not be let off so easily. If we publicise this view far and wide, few people would use that excuse because they’ll realise that they have to be made to account for their reason to apostatise more accurately.

  11. Fr Gabriel Burke Avatar

    Joe , you can twist my words to suit your argument but Simon has pointed out that your interpretation is untrue.
    So what if Mr Voris has a different stance on Garret’s funeral. Are people not entitled to express their opinion.
    You are referring to my bloglist. These are blogs that I read, it does not mean I agree with every word. Now I understand why you don’t have a bloglist on your blog.

  12. Joe O'Leary Avatar
    Joe O’Leary

    Oops, sorry. I did not realize I was referring to your bloglist; I thought you had singled out that particular video to share as an individual link.

    1. Fr. Gabriel Burke Avatar

      You are right Joe , that particular video was on a separate link until it mysteriously changed to another video. I had linked to it because the letter he discussed was from an Irish priest. Who the priest is I do not know. To me the video was not so much about Garrets Funeral or Stephen Gatley’s ( At least I think it was Stephen’s funeral) but the hypocrisy of the Bishops. They tell us to do one thing and they themselves when it suits them do the opposite. This does cause difficulties at funeral. We have received instructions as per the ritual not to have eulogies or inappropriate music. The offertory is only for the bread and wine. Yet here were funerals not adhering to the Bishops norms and nothing was done about it. It does lead to people to say why can’t we have X.Y.Z sure it was done at this funeral or that funeral. If I or any other priest said these are the norms, do you think my Bishop would back me?
      Funeral have become a bone of discontent in Ireland. You average Catholic who is at least a weekly Mass goer does not like eulogies or profane music at funerals, they think it is silly to bring up golf balls or gardening tools in the offertory procession. Yet when they die it is not they who will plan their funeral but their non practising children. It is very difficult as a priest to try and balance the two.

  13. Fr. Gabriel Burke Avatar

    Mary Cogan,
    The word man is an issue for you and some women in the USA. For the vast majority of women in Ireland it is not an issue. Some have tried to make it an issue but it just never took of the ground.Today young men and women refer to a group of friends as lads. When I was growing up lads meant your group of male friends only, So have the young females somehow become less of a feminist because they are now called lads? Have the left the feminist boat because they use lads and so deny the feminine? Words mean what you want them to mean.
    Take another example. Gay today can mean happy, a male homosexual, a homosexual male or female or some one who is not cool. Young people here in Ireland will say ” that is so gay” or “he or she is so gay” it has no sexual connotations, it simply means it’s uncool

    1. Anthony Ruff, OSB Avatar
      Anthony Ruff, OSB

      Fr. Burke,

      That may we true of the “vast majority,” but don’t you think you’re being insensitive to the other women, however small a minority they are? Shouldn’t we be sensitive and compassionate to every member of our community? Or the one lost sheep out of 100? You seem to dismiss or ignore the feelings of some fellow Christians.


      1. Karl Liam Saur Avatar
        Karl Liam Saur

        Well, Fr Ruff, that “however small a minority” would then also have to include women (and, boy, did I get to meet them in my adventures on behalf of less-exclusive usage) who feel condescended to by the systematic avoidance of the generic usage of “man”. Having spent years in the trenches, one thing I can aver with certainty is that you will be offending someone, somewhere, always, and that noble intentions will not get you off the hook.

        The current state of usage in English is such that the best representation would be a muddle of coexistence, rather than consistently one way or the other.

      2. Bill deHaas Avatar
        Bill deHaas

        Whatever happened to LA and the latin difference in meaning between “homo” and “vir”? Doesn’t that touch on this discussion?

      3. Fr. Gabriel Burke Avatar

        Dom Anthony,
        If you and I were to truly live according to your rule of life,neither of us would say a word. Somebody somewhere will be offended by what is said
        I will give you an example of how I and many Irish people are offended by a single word used often on this site. Roman. The Catholic Church is often described as Roman Catholic. This is very offensive as it was created by the British to belittle Catholics in the UK (of which all of Ireland was part of until 1922) and was used to somehow prove that Catholics were a foreign tribe and enemies of the state. It was used as an excuse to commit acts of genocide and ethnic cleansing.
        Will you now apologise to me and many of my fellow compatriots for being so insensitive? And will you promise to ask people not to use that phrase as it is offensive to a small minority of Catholics?
        After all you would not like to offend me or anyone else.

      4. Philip Endean SJ Avatar
        Philip Endean SJ

        For us Roman Catholics in Britain, the use of the word ‘Roman’ is a courtesy to Anglo-Catholics within the C of E–one that is all the more important now that they are so reduced.

      5. Henry Edwards Avatar
        Henry Edwards

        Fr. Burke,

        I’m one of those who often says Roman Catholic, and I simply cannot bring myself to apologize for it. In some quarters in this country it seems to have a connotation of “real Catholics”, ones of undiminished loyalty to Church and Faith and Pope.

    2. Mary Coogan Avatar
      Mary Coogan

      Fr. Burke,

      Just one comment on your perception of the power of words (or lack of power). Here in the US, “That’s so gay” is a commonplace of bullies and a dangerous, derogatory, and heterosexist speech act that can have tragic consequences. Have you heard of Tyler Clementi? Mr. Clementi leaped to his death from the George Washington Bridge after learning that his roommate had live-streamed on the intranet his private sexual encounter with another man. Sexual slurs create an atmosphere of fear and shame which can drive youth to despair. Phoebe Prince, an Irish immigrant high schooler, took her life after suffering bullying about a sexual relationship (actually statutory rape) with a classmate. And in Ireland, Leanne Wolf committed suicide after writing in her diary a note to her parents: “I am known as a slut and a tramp and a fatty…. this has gone on for too long. I can’t go on with this s**t no more.” Please do not assume that “that is so gay” is a harmless way of saying “it’s uncool.” Even when we do not see people react to offensive words, we ought to realize that the words can cause irreparable harm.

      1. Fr. Gabriel Burke Avatar

        Again you do not take in the social differences between the US and Ireland. The phrase that’s so gay has none of the negative connotations. I have this first hand from the same sex attracted students that I taught.
        I really don’t need a lecture from you on suicide having buried many people who have died that way including friends. I have also come to realise that it is not just one thing that can trigger suicide . It is a far more complex matter that you think.
        Mr Clement committed suicide as you say, not because someone saidThats so gay but because someone published a video of him in an intimate act. Two different things and to equate the two is just flawed.
        We are well aware of the death of Phoebe as it was well publicised in Ireland. Again you are comparing apples and oranges.
        As regards the term Slutty and tramp they are very offensive term here.
        I repeat once more the phrase that’s so gay has nothing to do with sexuality
        in this country. Why do you insist that your American meaning has to be the same as ours.
        Just one humorous example. I once visited a convent in the US. Having had a wonderful meal and great conversation I thanked the sisters and said how homely they were. Silence and a look on the sisters faces that would stop a bus. Homely is a great compliment in Ireland I did not realise that it was an insult in the US. Now following your logic in the use of language how many Irish people have been hurt by the compliment homely.
        The word gay has changed a few times over the last 100 years. in the latter part of the19th century and the beginning of the 20th a gay was a prostitute.
        For most of the 20th it meant happy. the trailer for the film going my way Bing Crosby is described as a gay priest. In Ireland until recently the diminutive of Gabriel was Gay. Hence the Chat show host Gay Byrne, the Members of the European parliament for Dublin is Gay mitchel

      2. Henry Edwards Avatar
        Henry Edwards

        Fr. Burke,

        When I was in school, “gay” meant happy. When my children were in school, it meant uncool. Now their children are in school, it has the relational meaning. (I wonder whether Ireland lags behind the U.S. in the degeneration of the English language.)

        The principal downtown street in our southern river city is and “always” has been named Gay Street, allegedly named after the Gay Street in Baltimore (alternatively, Philadelphia), which was named for the family name of an original surveyor of Baltimore.

        But I’d bet that “holier than thou” means the same over there. There being plenty of those who are. On both sides. Of the Atlantic, and of every issue, particularly every religious issue.

      3. Fr. Allan J. McDonald Avatar

        Homely? I was shocked by that one and you are right that they didn’t do something to you! But how is it a compliment in Ireland and what would it mean?
        In terms of the word “gay” it did not have a homosexual context to it until the late 1970’s I think in the USA. Prior to that it was used as it is meant, happy, enjoyable. A favorite children’s cartoon show “The Flintstones” which also appealed to adults had in its opening and closing jingle, …you’ll have a gay old time.” Later versions of it changed it to you’ll have a “great” old time to avoid the other connotation, but it was changed back when children now adults, my age, protested.

      4. Karl Liam Saur Avatar
        Karl Liam Saur

        Fr Allan

        The slang use of gay has longer roots than the 1970s, back a few generations.

      5. Fr. Allan J. McDonald Avatar

        Perhaps so within the homosexual community, but not necessarily in our larger cultural context until the 1970’s. I don’t think most Americans would have associated that word with a sexual orientation.

      6. Jack Wayne Avatar
        Jack Wayne

        When I worked as a grocery store clerk I encountered women named Gay (you have to look at a lot of checks an IDs, after all). It wasn’t short for anything, and they were usually a little older, mostly born prior to the 1970’s. It must have been a popular name here in the Midwest for a short time in the 1950s or so, confirming to me that it just meant “happy” for most people.

        I’ve seen “homely” used in older books to describe hospitality and a home-like atmosphere, but pretty much everyone here in the US would think you were calling them ugly.

    3. Gerard Flynn Avatar
      Gerard Flynn

      Father Burke, how do you know what the vast majority of women in Ireland think about anything? Have you consulted them? Or are you simply presuming that your views are shared by the vast majority of people? Or because you happen to be a priest, albeit in a part of Ireland, about which you know very little, that people will defer to your views, if they are articulated stridently?

      The authoritarian, dismissive tone of your postings here and elsewhere does not indicate a desire to consult the views of other people. So the ease with which you claim to speak for the vast majority of women in Ireland would be amusing, if it were not so incongruous and misguided.

  14. Fr. Gabriel Burke Avatar

    Henry Edwards
    the term gay has taken a different route in Ireland. Until the late eighties early nineties , It was not generally used for Homosexuals. In the last few years it has come to mean uncool both here and in Britain. As I said in an earlier post the diminutive of Gabriel is Gay. So as a youngster I was known as Gay Burke. I never suffered any slagging for this when I was in school and I left school in 1987. I stopped using the name Gay when I worked in Boston, as a seminarian in 1990. I was about to serve a mass when the celebrant asked me my name. I said I’m Gay. He took a fit. And I had to explain it was short for Gabriel.
    There are other words which cannot be used in the States . Fag for instance is a cigarette in Ireland. I caused consternation after dinner one night in the US when I excused myself from the table and told all I was in need of a fag!
    To describe someone as a queer fellow (or as it is more commonly used Quare Fella) does not imply he is homosexual. Faggots are little sticks you start a fire with.
    Crack (spelt craic but pronounced the same) means fun. It comes from the Irish. You will often hear Irish people saying how good the craic was last night. I think they would be arrested in the States.

    Fr Allan
    We use Homely the same way you use homey. We never use the term Homey
    I can’t think of an equivalent for your homely

  15. Fr. Gabriel Burke Avatar

    Henry Edwards, Philip Endean,
    Are you not going to follow Dom Anthony’s rule of not offending people no matter how small the minority?
    Fr Philip your are being sensitive to the Anglicans yet insensitive to us Irish, your fellow Catholics.
    Henry , you see Roman as a badge of Honour ,we see as an insult?
    What to do? Of course I do not expect you to stop using the term Roman, the point I was making is that it is impossible not to offend somebody.

  16. Fr. Gabriel Burke Avatar


    You are quoting American Bishops writing to Americans dealing with an American problem. I am living in Ireland. We are not part of the US. This is not a problem for us.

    1. Claire Mathieu Avatar
      Claire Mathieu

      Ok. I haven’t been to Ireland since I was a child, so I wouldn’t know.

  17. John Nolan Avatar
    John Nolan

    ‘Man’ without the definite or indefinite article is inclusive language – it means ‘men and women’. ‘For us men’ does sound gender-specific when taken out of context. Keep the Credo in Latin and the problem disappears.

    In England the term Roman Catholic is used by certain Anglicans to emphasize their belief (conceit?) that they are the true Catholic church; Catholics themselves only use it as an abbreviation (RC).

    1. Fr. Gabriel Burke Avatar

      Remember that Catholics in the UK are second class citizens. They cannot become Prime minister( Which is why Blair converted after he left office)
      They cannot become Home Secretary. And they certainly cannot become King or Queen or be married to the King or Queen.

  18. Joe O'Leary Avatar
    Joe O’Leary

    It is surely not correct to say that Roman Catholics cannot become PM or Home Secretary in Britain.

    1. Fr. Gabriel Burke Avatar

      I am afraid it is Joe,
      the simple reason being that these two offices deal with the appointments of Bishops in the CoE..
      There was a flurry among constitutional lawyers in England when
      Duncan Smith became leader of the Tories. I am going only by memory, they came up with a solution that he could be PM but with reduced powers and those powers handed over to the Dep..PM or some other new ministry

  19. Joe O'Leary Avatar
    Joe O’Leary

    Catholics are by the same token second class citizens in Japan since they cannot become Emperor.

  20. Joe O'Leary Avatar
    Joe O’Leary

    I suppose Fr Burke is thinking of this, from the 1829 Act of Emancipation:

    “Provided also, that nothing herein contained shall extend, or be construed to extend to enable any person or persons professing the Roman Catholic religion to hold or exercise the office of guardians and justices of the United Kingdom, or of regent of the United Kingdom, under whatever name, style, or title such office may be constituted; nor to enable any person, otherwise than as he is now by law enabled, to hold or enjoy the office of lord high chancellor, lord keeper or lord commissioner of the great seal of Great Britain . . . F1; or his Majesty’s high commissioner to the general assembly of the Church of Scotland.”

    But note that: “There are currently no known outstanding effects for the Roman Catholic Relief Act 1829, Section 12.” Does this mean that the provisions of the Section are obsolete?

  21. John Nolan Avatar
    John Nolan

    All Christians, not specifically Catholics, are now effectively second-class citizens in the UK.

    1. Fr. Gabriel Burke Avatar

      The Catholics are third class citizens. At least other Christian can hold these offices and can also be the monarch or spouse of the Monarch.

  22. Henry Balkwill Avatar
    Henry Balkwill

    Only comments with a full name will be approved.

    Ray Marshall :

    Maybe priests should take reading lessons? This is in English, for goodness sake!

    Well… it’s not the same English that you and I use in everyday speech now is it?

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