Rehabilitating the 1998 Sacramentary

by Neil Xavier O’Donoghue

Translation is very much the center of liturgical news at the moment.  Pope Francis’ recently released motu propio Magnum Principium  and his letter of clarification to Cardinal Sarah have featured in many general Catholic news media.

Most liturgical scholars consider the 2011 English edition of the Roman Missal to be exhibit number one in the case for poor liturgical translation. This translation was produced under a very heavy Roman influence and it is generally understood to be very difficult to proclaim or understand as an aural text.

Ireland’s Association of Catholic Priests commissioned a survey of the views of Irish clergy on the 2011 missal translation. The results of the survey showed that only 4.7% of priests were very satisfied with the new translation and 20% were satisfied, on the other end of the spectrum 27.4% were very dissatisfied and 33.7% were dissatisfied, showing a much greater percentage of Irish clergy (61.1%) being unhappy with the 2011 translation and a much smaller number liking it (24.7%).  80% of the Irish priests surveyed were in favor of replacing the Missal translation, either with a yet to be prepared revision (44.5%), or by simply abandoning it and reverting to the 1973 edition immediately (35.1%).

While the English-speaking bishops’ conferences (following strong encouragement from the Congregation of Divine Worship) applied the ill-fated translation norms of the 2001 CDW instruction Liturgiam Authenticam, and produced the current 2011 English missal translation, other bishops’ conferences had more difficulties in approving similar translations in their own languages. These bishops will now be able to work on a more acceptable translation in German, French, etc.

However initial commentary on the motu propio by English speaking bishops and liturgical experts seem to discount any further work on the missal and instead concentrate on other future translation projects that are in the pipeline such as the new translation of the Liturgy of the Hours. With most liturgical decision makers resigned to retaining to retaining the current 2011 translation, we face the prospect of retaining it for at least another decade! Thankfully the New Zealand Conference of Catholic bishops has taken the lead in this matter and expressed their desire “to explore prudently and patiently the possibility of an alternative translation of the Roman Missal.”

I personally believe that it is eminently possible, and indeed quite easy, to provide an alternative to the 2011 Roman Missal. The so called 1998 Sacramentary is basically ready to go and with a minimum of editing could be ready for liturgical use in a few weeks.

I have made the arguments for such a rehabilitation in a recent article that was published in the current issue of the Irish Theological Quarterly . Unfortunately, for copyright reasons, the whole article cannot be reproduced here. ICEL spent almost twenty years preparing the 1998 Sacramentary. The best English speaking liturgical experts were involved in the project, all eleven English speaking bishops’ conferences approved the whole translation. Despite the countless hours work by teams of experts, the translation was ultimately rejected by Rome. Bishop Maurice Taylor of Galloway, Scotland was chair of ICEL 1997-2002. He has left us an account of the dealings with the Congregation for Divine Worship. PrayTell has also published Peter Nixon’s M.A. Thesis Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, California detailing the events surrounding the rejection of the 1998 Sacramentary.

This blog post is not the place to go into the problems with the current 2011 translation of the Missal (a simple search in the search box in the top right corner of this page will reveal dozens of posts outlining various problems with that translation).

In my article (written before the new motu propio), I proposed that the Divine Worship – The Missal for the Ordinariates established by Anglicanorum Coetibus,  promulgated in 2015, could provide the justification we need to also promulgate a version of the 1998 Sacramentary. The Divine Worship book provides a second approved liturgical translation of some prayer texts of the current Roman Missal rendering them into Tudorized English. These include both the Roman Canon and Eucharistic Prayer II.

Liturgiam Authenticam 87-88 expresses a preference for a single translation of liturgical books and in particular for the Order of Mass in any given language. I consider the second translation of the central texts of the Order of Mass in the Divine Worship edition to be a good example of permissiveness and pastoral sensitivity which, in this case, is shown to former Anglicans. I have no issue with those Christians who derive spiritual benefit by participating in liturgical celebrations celebrated in Tudorized English. The Book of Common Prayer and the King James Version of the Bible are treasures of English Christianity and culture. To be honest, I am happy to see the Church making pastoral accommodations to better bring people to Christ.  However, I would propose that a similar largesse be shown to those Catholics who feel more at home in contemporary English and who believe that they would derive spiritual benefit by participating in liturgical celebrations where the prayers are prayed in standard English that is more readily understandable than the linguistic style of the 2011 Roman Missal.

Additionally, Pope Francis’ October 15 letter to Cardinal Sarah clarified that “individual numbers of Liturgiam authenticam must be carefully reconceived.” With this in mind, I suggest the publication of an edited version of the 1998 Sacramentary to be used side by side with the current 2011 Roman Missal.

In the original 1998 Sacramentary, ICEL decided not to change the assembly’s responses in the prayers (unless a major problem was perceived in a particular response), so it retained the responses as found in the 1973 Roman Missal translation. However, the 2011 version retranslated most of these parts. Despite the linguistic and theological issues with the 2011 translation of the assembly’s responses, I think that, on a pastoral level, it would be unwise to change them again after such a short period of time. I would likewise consider the adoption of the 2011 translation of the institution narrative within the 1998 translation of the Eucharistic Prayers.

The 1998 Sacramentary contained some newly composed texts, most notably an optional three-year cycle of opening prayers for Sunday Mass, matching the Lectionary readings. I would suggest that, at least initially, they be removed from the newly published version. The new edition of the missal would be prepared in a similar way to the newest versions of the Masses of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Eucharistic Prayers for Masses with Children. Both of these were recently republished in new editions which basically conserve the original translation but incorporate the revised assembly’s parts.

In this way parishes would be free to use either translation. Obviously, the use of two translations simultaneously is not an ideal situation. I would propose that once the adapted 1998 Sacramentary translation was introduced this would be followed by a period of stability. Then a new translation could be prepared that could take the best of both the 2011 and 1998 versions. In the meantime, both translations would be legitimate options and time would tell which version was found to be more prayerful for the general Catholic population. Given that the assembly’s parts would be the same, people would not encounter too much difficulty in attending liturgies using the different translations.

I fully realize that this is not the most practical suggestion. Whatever one might think of it, the 2011 translation is a fact.  Virtually every parish in the English-speaking world has already adopted it and thousands of worship aids and prayer books already use that translation. The introduction of a second translation would ruffle some feathers and would entail a certain amount of catechesis and faith formation. Practically speaking it is definitely easier to simply stick our heads in the sand and do nothing. But that is precisely what I am afraid of. The Eucharist is too important to allow the Church’s celebration of it to be ruled simply by apathy or inertia. I believe that all Catholics must fight to make our celebration of the Eucharist as fruitful as possible.  In one of my favorite quotations of Alexander Schmemann, he warns of the danger of domesticating the Eucharist:

It suddenly became clear to me that ultimately, deeply, deeply, there is a demonic fight in our Church with the Eucharist—and it is not by chance! Without putting the Eucharist at the very center, the church is a ‘religious phenomenon,’ but not the Church of Christ, the pillar and bulwark of the Truth (1 Timothy 3:15). The whole history of the Church has been marked by pious attempts to reduce the Eucharist, to make it ‘safe,’ to dilute it in piety, to reduce it to fasting and preparation, to tear it away from the church (ecclesiology), from the world (cosmology, history), from the Kingdom (eschatology). And it became clear to me that if I had a vocation, it is here, in the fight for the Eucharist, against this reduction, against the de-churching of the Church—which happened through clericalization on one hand, and through worldliness on the other.

– Alexander Schmemann, The Journals of Father Alexander Schmemann, 1973-1983, trans. Juliana Schmemann (Crestwood, NY: SVS, 2000), 310.

We cannot allow our liturgical future to be decided by what is the path of least resistance.  It is incumbent upon the Church to make every effort to find the lost sheep and to reach out to the men and women of today’s generation. I hope everyone agrees that translation is not everything; no matter how good a translation we might have, fidelity to Christ is still vital. Good liturgy must go hand in hand with holiness of life, or, as David Fagerberg has termed it, liturgical asceticism. Perhaps I will be proven mistaken and the majority of Catholics will prefer the current 2011 translation to the 1998 effort, but I believe that we ought to find out.

I am not alone in my opinion, the famous Australian Jesuit Gerald O’Collins has also expressed his hope for a rehabilitation of the 1998 Sacramentary in his recent book Lost in Translation. In the Preface he writes: “Before I die, I would be delighted to celebrate once again the Eucharist in my native language.” I endorse his desire and hope that other pastors, liturgists and concerned Catholics will agree with me.


Neil Xavier O’Donoghue is a priest of the Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey. He currently ministers in the Archdiocese of Armagh, Ireland, where he serves as vice rector at Redemptoris Mater Seminary. He has studied at Seton Hall University, the University of Notre Dame, and St Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary. He holds a Doctorate in Theology from St Patrick’s College, Maynooth.







46 responses to “Rehabilitating the 1998 Sacramentary”

  1. Karl Liam Saur Avatar
    Karl Liam Saur

    Look forward, not backward. 1998 is a tempting look backward. Avoid the temptation.

    In the context of the Mass, focus on the proper orations/collects that are heard only once a year, and that have little chance of percolation. 1998 can be one of the references for future revision of them, but it’s not a silver bullet.

    That said, there’s nothing yet indicating the current US bench of bishops has any appetite to take this on any time soon.

  2. Fr Richard Duncan CO Avatar
    Fr Richard Duncan CO

    Is the 1998 Missal available online? I keep hearing reports about how wonderful it is, but have no means of forming my own judgement.

    It ought, also, to be possible to produce a version of Divine Worship which is ready for use within a short space of time. That I have seen, and it is so evidently superior to the both the 2011 and 1973 translations, that I believe it would be popular with many people. And it doesn’t translate consubstanialem Patri as “consubstantial with the Father”!

    1. Paul Inwood Avatar
      Paul Inwood

      You’ll find it at
      . . .

      [Link removed at the request of ICEL, with this explanation: “The text of the ICEL Sacramentary is copyright by ICEL and no request for permission for this use has been granted.” Evidently, these texts remain closely guarded. We are sorry for any confusion. — RF, Pray Tell editor pro tem]

      1. Fr Richard Duncan CO Avatar
        Fr Richard Duncan CO

        Thank you. I will look at this when I get the opportunity.

    2. Fr. Neil Xavier O'Donoghue Avatar
      Fr. Neil Xavier O’Donoghue

      The Divine Worship ritual edition is readily available. A link is in the main body of the post should bring you to the CTS webpage where it can easily be purchased. It is fully approved for use, but only for liturgies within the various ordinariates. The book is a little on the expensive side, but that could well be down to the limited market for the ritual edition. However, it is not approved for general use within the Roman Rite. This discussion of such a possibility could form another post, but really isn’t part of the 1998 Sacramentary debate.

      Also, for the record, there is no attempt to maintain the same assembly responses in the Divine Worship edition, and “consubstanitialem Patri” is translated as “being of one substance with the Father.”

      1. Paul Inwood Avatar
        Paul Inwood

        For info, the US Book of Divine Worship can be found here:

  3. Paul Inwood Avatar
    Paul Inwood

    While agreeing with much of Fr O’Donoghue’s post, I think he is wrong in wanting to retain the people’s responses and other texts (Gloria, Creed, etc) from the 2010 version. He says that people are now used to them. While that may be true at one level, the fact is that they still do not come naturally to many people. The six years since implementation in 2011 is not a long time in comparison with the 40+ years of the previous version and, as I said in another thread, the new versions are here but have still not bedded in. People still have to make a conscious effort to say/sing them correctly. You can still find many instances of old and new “co-existing”.

    Furthermore, it is clear from talking to people that their spirituality has been affected. At a time when the Church was reeling from the clergy sex abuse scandals, it was nothing less than disastrous to pull the rug out from under their prayer lives, and many have still not forgiven the Church for this.

    Just as important, as I also said in that other thread, the ecumenical implications of not reverting to the texts we had in common are considerable. I think we really need to undo the damage done by LA and the 2010 translation to interchurch relations.

    It would be foolish to retain what we have now just because we have it now, or because we spent a lot of money on what we have now. Having a translation that speaks to people and nourishes their spirituality is beyond price. Yes, our bishops will have to eat humble pie and admit that they made a big pastoral mistake, but my sense is that people will respect them and not deride them for that.

    1. Fr. Neil Xavier O'Donoghue Avatar
      Fr. Neil Xavier O’Donoghue

      I have no great love for the current responses. There is a very strong argument for revising them, and (with reference to Chupungco in particular), there may even be theological problems in their current translation. However, my proposal is to provide a relatively quick, easy and workable solution to a pastoral problem. I honestly can’t see a wholesale abandoning of the current Missal, for better or worse, too much time, effort and money have been invested in it. If people find different responses to the Mass depending on the parish or the celebrant of the Mass it would be disconcerting. Also for a common musical repertoire, we need to have common words. If an optional 1998 version was introduced it could be easily integrated into worshipping communities.
      My hope would be that a few years after the modified 1998 Sacramentary was introduced, a wholescale revision could be started that would take account of both translations, and any other relevant linguistic and liturgical developments.

    2. Ben Kalafut Avatar
      Ben Kalafut

      The pastoral concern cuts both ways. Remember that the polls showed a split between young and old priests and young and old Catholics over the 2011 translation. The response of many to the 2011 translation was like that of Josiah when the old Law was read for the first time in generations. Many have still not forgiven the Church for the 1973 translation, which they perceive as having both robbed them of their birthright and obscured the sacred action enough to drive their friends to become “nones” or worse.

      Insofar as the 1998 Ordinary is similar to the 1973 Ordinary and the switch proposed here is to come with revisions to the people’s responses in a few years, and more because 1998 was influenced by the secular feminist movement to re-make the English language, this is bound to be thought of as “this again?” or as a last hurrah for baby-boomers, to encourage un-Christian talk about “biological solutions”, and to drive people (because the same forces that oppose the 2011 translation, with the editors of this website being the sole prominent exception, have aggressively opposed Latin OF Masses) to the Extraordinary Form with something other than mutual enrichment in mind. If one’s objective is to prove correct the exaggerations of those who say that mass in the vernacular or (per se) the Ordinary Form is irredeemable, this change would serve that end.

      There’s enough division and enough intergenerational conflict in the Church already. The proposed two-stage adoption of the 1998 translation without much change will make the problem worse.

      1. Fr. Neil Xavier O'Donoghue Avatar
        Fr. Neil Xavier O’Donoghue

        Maybe you are right, although to be honest, I haven’t come across anyone young or old that greeted the 2011 translation of the Missal in a manner any way similar to the Israelites when Josiah renewed the covenant.

        To be really honest, most Church going Catholics were simply a bit miffed at having to change the responses and many unfortunately don’t listen much to the words of the prayers. I think that the process of rejection of the 1998 Scaramentary was simply unjust. If it is tried and people in fact prefer the 2011 translation, then my proposals would fall flat on their face (and this wouldn’t be the first time that I’m proved wrong). However, I think that given the perceived with the current translation (as, for example, the bishops of New Zealand seem to think), the 1998 translation could be tried in the field and then let the best translation win!

      2. Karl Liam Saur Avatar
        Karl Liam Saur

        If field experimentation were to be seriously (rather than pretextually) considered, I think we’d have to do a lot of work to determine how field experiments should be measured before they are undertaken. That itself would take considerable time, of course, but it would be necessary to reduce selection bias, confirmation bias and a host of other typical cognitive bias problems in the parochial setting.

    3. James Hess, O.Carm. Avatar
      James Hess, O.Carm.

      I agree completely!

  4. Paul Inwood Avatar
    Paul Inwood

    I would also disagree with Fr O’Donoghue about the Alternative Opening Prayers. These are triumphs of the liturgical text writer’s art, and the fact that they are available as a separate publication and in regular use by a proportion of clergy speaks to their value. The current collect prayers were created many centuries ago when a very different lectionary was in use. They are on a one-year cycle. That means that at least two years in three they are out of sync with the 1969/81 three-year Lectionary that we now (thank goodness!) enjoy, and often enough they are out of sync in all three years. The Alternative Opening Prayers not only relate to the scriptures of the day and help to give them life, they are also substantial and feed people in a way that the current collects do not. I think they are superior in every way, and an excellent example of what Comme le prévoit was talking about when it said in its final paragraph 43 “Texts translated from another language are clearly not sufficient for the celebration of a fully renewed liturgy. The creation of new texts will be necessary.”

    1. James Hess, O.Carm. Avatar
      James Hess, O.Carm.

      I agree completely!

  5. Allen F Corrigan Avatar
    Allen F Corrigan

    The Vox Clara 2010 product, while defective in many ways, does not fail in one sense: It could have a future as a critical source for translation into third-generation receiving languages, especially languages that are not capably represented by trained Latin scholars.

    1. Anthony Hawkins Avatar
      Anthony Hawkins

      Except where the prayer is so badly translated as to mislead: e.g. Post-communion Advent 1, where the natural meaning of the English is ‘teach us by passing things‘ instead of ‘teach us by these mysteries‘.

    2. Fr. Neil Xavier O'Donoghue Avatar
      Fr. Neil Xavier O’Donoghue

      A translation aid for other languages in English is fine. Also, I think we are partly victims of the success of English as the new global lingua franca. Particularly given that (one suspects) the English translation is the true editio typica that many other language versions are translated from. However, an acknowledgement of the importance of English, should not mean that we have to be saddled with a liturgical version in English that is very hard for the regular churchgoer to understand.

      For example, the United Bible Societies publishes a series of handbooks of helps for translators (one for each book of the Bible). These are invaluable and there is no reason that a similar handbook could be prepared in English to help future translators of the Missal. Likewise, an interlinear or a hyperliteral translation would be fine. But again, these would not be ritual books themselves. It is a mistake to foist a translation aid for non-English translators on English-speaking worshippers.

  6. Lee Bacchi Avatar
    Lee Bacchi

    The 1998 ICEL Sacramentary is terrific. Let’s get it in use ASAP.

  7. Anthony Hawkins Avatar
    Anthony Hawkins

    Let’s just start with the celebrant’s prayers which change daily, the Opening Prayer etc. The rest is stuff which will sink in over time (except where expressed so badly as to be incomprehensible). These three texts are only needed by the celebrant, the rest of us listen and assent, so can be provided as a supplement to the Sacramentary. And let’s just start with the translations of the Latin, which are so much clearer in 1998. That could be produced very easily. The next step might well be the newly composed prayers, but under the new regulations these still require recognitio from CDWDS, they are not completely delegated to the Bishops’ Conferences, so there could be an immense delay. Change, albeit small, ASAP.

    1. Rita Ferrone Avatar
      Rita Ferrone

      Anthony Hawkins is pointing to something I think is worth considering. Many people assume it’s “all or nothing” as if the Missal has no component parts, when in fact it is a great collection of prayers, and we could take an incremental approach to addressing the problems within it.

      For example: The bishops could easily authorize the 1998 collects that are translations from the Latin and print them as an alternate “book of the chair” and see how priests and people respond to this over a period of experimentation.

      Recall that for many years, there was something called a “Sacramentary Supplement” which contained the Eucharistic Prayers for Various Needs and Occasions. As a second step, why not authorize the 1998 translation of EP I through IV (with the acclamations standardized), in the form of a supplement, again for a period of experimentation. Then, after actually living with these texts, the bishops, priests, and people will have a much better sense of what is fruitful, absent a spirit of polemics and hostility.

      Some of the process will help develop wisdom about the sound of the translations. If the bishops are going to make wise decisions in the future it’s not so clear that they can do it “out of their heads.” Better to do it “out of their experience.” I would bet that after a period of 5-7 years of trying these alternatives, the 1998 would win, hands down, in any evaluation of what is fruitful for public prayer. Then it would be much easier to see how a transition could be made into using the whole book, with whatever amendments are necessary, after due consideration. Gradual change makes better sense to me than an abrupt change.

      I know for sure that many priests would feel immediate relief if the collects were made available in more comprehensible and proclaimable English.

  8. Jim Michaels Avatar
    Jim Michaels

    Rita, I totally agree with you. It is also an easier and cheaper way to see to evaluate the translations, as you said “after actually living with these texts, the bishops, priests, and people will have a much better sense of what is fruitful, absent a spirit of polemics and hostility”. I would just leave the peoples responses alone.

  9. Aidan Riley Avatar
    Aidan Riley

    Why don’t we do what our Anglican brothers and sisters do? We can have a high church, Roman, Elizabethan English translation of the orations alongside a low church, modern translation of the same prayer and let the presider pick which one he wants to use. We could do the same with the Scripture translations. In the move to high church/Low church, you can have your precious 1998 translation and we can use the beautiful orations found in Divine Worship. I think it would be an ideal compromise, and win, win for everyone. It would also allow the polemics to settle down and provide some stability to the liturgy. Because you know if the 1998 translation is approved cart blanch, the opposing sides just change from defense to offense — and the liturgy wars will go on forever. Some did have legitimate complaints about the 1998 translation and the proposed translation of the rite of Ordination if I recall, and these issues seem to be completely ignored by the lovers of the 98 translation.

    1. Karl Liam Saur Avatar
      Karl Liam Saur

      Even if I were to like your idea, there’s one key flaw: giving the presider the choice; I wouldn’t even leave it to a pastor’s autocracy – there needs to be broad and deep community discernment over a period of time. This is definitely not something that should be left to presidential discretion – a lose, lose for everyone. The problem is Catholics don’t do that very well in parochial settings (pastoral councils are *not* the same thing at all; they tend to become echo chambers of pastors on a multi-year lag, with a condiment of gadflies here and there….).

      Too many people (not limited to one end of the spectrum or the other) are willing to capture forms of palace revolution-type methods for results that they prefer. And thus the formation of the Catholic faithful in authentic forms of community-wide discernment get elided because they will necessarily take so much time, effort and frustration (especially of our own desiderata). So much easier to get the quicker gratification of doing what we want faster before we die – of course for their ostensible benefit. Which just perpetuates the problem in mirror image and doesn’t really solve it.

  10. joseph mangone Avatar
    joseph mangone

    Rita’s proposal seems to be the right balance for the pastoral needs of most parishes. A Book of the Chair, which is missing for the 2011 Missal, is sorely needed. (Ask any server who has to hold up the Missal for the presider!) Creating one now using the Opening Rites/Collects & Prayers after Communion?Closing Rites from the 1998 Sacramentary would be a great first step in addition to the supplements for the Prefaces & EP 1-4.
    I think taken a poll of clergy and laity showing them the 1998 and 2011 side by side, the 1998 would win hands down.
    As a liturgist I understand that opinion polls should not direct our actions BUT hearing the voice of the People of God IS necessary as we create ritualized prayer.
    Yes, we must move forward as we learn from our past(both successes and failures). It is time to evaluate the 2011 Missal and how it came to be and guided by the Holy Spirit, begin our journey and study for a Sacramentary that lives and breaths and sounds like English for those of us who worship in this language.
    Yes, and by all means, let’s call it a Sacramentary which it is…its not a Missal!

    1. Jim Pauwels Avatar
      Jim Pauwels

      Re: a Book of the Chair – our parish basically creates its own each week – a three ring binder with the proper texts for the day typed up by someone in the office. I believe it’s pretty much standard operating procedure around here.

    2. Fr. Anthony Forte Avatar
      Fr. Anthony Forte

      The CDWDS confirmed a Book of the Chair, entitled Excerpts from the Roman Missal, this last March 1. See USCCB Committee on Divine Worship Newsletter, Volume VIII, March 2017.

  11. Jonathan Day Avatar
    Jonathan Day

    I have yet to see anyone, including Fr O’Donoghue, assert that the 1998 translation is ideal. It needs work, though this could be done relatively quickly.

    So I don’t know who the “lovers of the 98 translation are”. The principal merit of 1998 is that its English is far better than that of the dreadful 2011 translation. And, it is more faithful to the Latin, i.e. a better rendering of the meaning of the Latin text.

    It isn’t perfect, just better.

    1. Fr. Neil Xavier O'Donoghue Avatar
      Fr. Neil Xavier O’Donoghue


      that’s precisely the point. Many people believe “that its English is far better” than the 2011 translation.

      I don’t think anyone says that the 1998 translation perfect, or that its adoption will cure all of our liturgical woes.
      I think we need to admit that any liturgical translation can only be a stop-gap measure and with the developments of the living language of English, of liturgical and sacramental theology, and even of our knowledge of the Latin originals and the origins of many of the phrases, the theological concepts and spiritual realities that make up the prayers in the editio typica, there will always be room for improvement. The hybrid version I am proposing, couldn’t last forever and there are definitely aspects of the 2011 translation that can improve on the efforts of the 1998 version, in future revisions.

      My proposal is simply something I suggest as a workable, relatively simple and achievable attempt at a solution to the specific pastoral problem of many people not understanding the prayers as proclaimed during the celebration of the Eucharist.

      Being brutally honest, many people wouldn’t even notice if my suggestion was put into practice. But I propose it merely as one of the myriad of small steps that we need to improve our celebration of the liturgy.

      Unfortunately, for copyright reasons, I wasn’t able to post my full article that gives much more by way of background and what you have in the post is a rewriting of my basic conclusion in light of the recent interventions of Pope Francis.

      There will always be room for improvement of our translation(s) of the Missal. But given the length of time it takes to prepare a fully new translation and get it approved by the individual bishops’ conferences, and considering that this was already approved by the various conferences, I basically propose this as a “shovel-ready” project.

      1. Karl Liam Saur Avatar
        Karl Liam Saur

        “Being brutally honest, many people wouldn’t even notice if my suggestion was put into practice. ”

        That’s worth noting in terms of assessing arguments based on pastoral necessity.

  12. Fr. Neil Xavier O'Donoghue Avatar
    Fr. Neil Xavier O’Donoghue

    True, but the whole point of liturgical renewal is to do the little things that we can do. Our liturgy is based on the eternal realities of the Paschal Mystery. We can’t change the Death and Resurrection of Christ, but we can (and probably even must) improve our liturgical translations.

    I consider it to be a simple tessera in the mosaic of a more fruitful liturgical celebration, yes maybe small and insignificant in itself, but nonetheless possibly a vital part of the whole.

  13. Fr. Jack Feehily Avatar
    Fr. Jack Feehily

    Several points. First, after listening to Abp. Gregory–a man I happen to admire–speak at yesterday’s USCCB meeting, I see little hope in the near term for an action like this from CDW. The little repartee between him and Bishop Trautmann was precious. If anyone knows how little one can expect by way of rational consideration of matters for the good of the whole church (not just its clerical servants), it’s the Emeritus Bishop of Erie. Second, the Holy See has affirmed that the 1962 Missal which actually was abrogated is suitable for use according to the inclinations of any priest….even though it’s Latin is not at all the same as that of RMIII. It might be as fanciful to wish they would consider at the request of Bishop’s Conferences like NZ and others for an indult for continued use by individual priests as with the TLM. The indult could specify that the 2011 ordinary and people’s responses would remain as is. Third, it would be good to keep in mind that while 1998 was indeed fully approved by all the English Language Episcopal Conferences, it was in fact rejected by the Roman dicastery under the authority of JPII. Getting that to rise from the dead might be beyond our hopes, although its prayers, in my view, are more comprehensible and pray-able than 1973 or 2011. Finally, it would be instructive to know how many priests in the US are continuing to use prayers from the sacramentary and maybe even the collects of 1998. Lots of us memorized the EP’s of 1973 long ago.

    1. Karl Liam Saur Avatar
      Karl Liam Saur

      Before we perhaps too hastily describe the 1962 Missal as having been abrogated, for the sake of argument let us pause briefly to consider the implications of Pope Benedict XVI’s finesse in SP saying it wasn’t. His finesse, if accepted at face value, could also be applied by another pope to cover other editions of the Missal after 1962 that were not abrogated in the formal way his finesse indicates is required to count as an abrogation. That wouldn’t cover the 1998 proposals, which never became a vernacular edition properly speaking, but would cover the approved vernacular editions 1 and 2 of the Roman Missal and might cover the not-quite-fully-editions between the Council and those.

    2. John Page Avatar
      John Page

      Thank you for the tribute to Bishop Trautman. The only US bishop to have studied under Joseph Jungmann.

    3. Jeff Rexhausen Avatar
      Jeff Rexhausen

      Was the discussion between Gregory and Trautmann in the early or late morning or early or late afternoon? The USCCB website has four different videos – two of the morning session and two from the afternoon.

  14. Paul Inwood Avatar
    Paul Inwood

    Fr O’Donoghue: Being brutally honest, many people wouldn’t even notice if my suggestion was put into practice. But I propose it merely as one of the myriad of small steps that we need to improve our celebration of the liturgy.

    If he is right, logic would say this makes it even more important to do something that will be noticed, and, more importantly, appreciated — perhaps the diametric opposite of what he is suggesting: change all the people’s responses, Gloria, Creed, etc, back to 1973 and leave everything else as it is since people seem to have largely tuned out the presider’s prayers.

    I’d go with that as a temporary stopgap, even though it seems clear that 1998 in toto is actually the best way to move forward, while leaving the way open for future modifications of it.

    1. Karl Liam Saur Avatar
      Karl Liam Saur

      *Logic* would not say that. Too many missing gaps in logic for that to yet be demonstrated.

    2. Fr. Neil Xavier O'Donoghue Avatar
      Fr. Neil Xavier O’Donoghue

      While the 2011 translation may not be very popular in any region, I can’t see any bishops’ conference rushing to fully jettison it. Hence my proposal of adopting an edited version of the 1998 translation that could be used in conjunction with the 2011 translation. This would need the retention of the current translation of the assembly’s responses.

      We can see a similar situation currently in Spanish language liturgies in the US (until the new US edition of the Spanish language Missal is actually published). This community of millions of Spanish-speaking Catholics is served by priests using a multiplicity of translations of the missal (from Mexico, Spain, Columbia, Ecuador, etc.) . These contain radically different translations of the prayers. However, more or less the same assembly’s responses are held in common (apart from the vosotros/ustedes debate).

      In an ideal world, the 1998 translation in toto might be nice. However, even this translation had retained the assembly’s responses from the older translation for pastoral reasons. So if one was able to adopt it fully, maybe the responses themselves could be revised. But again I think this is just simply beyond the bounds of possibility at the moment.

      In the end, I think liturgical renewal is best acheived by taking “baby steps” rather than “giant leaps forward.”

  15. Maxwell Johnson Avatar
    Maxwell Johnson

    This is a hopeful conversation.
    Just a suggestion – do not ever simply change or restore the responses back to 1973 but use the most recent version of those texts from PRAYING TOGETHER, published by the English Language Liturgical Consultation (ELLC), 1988 (which includes Roman Catholic participants). For current use see EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN WORSHIP (2006). And while we are at it, reflection on the following statement from the ELLC “Reims Statement: Praying with One Voice,” adopted in August, 2011, would seem relevant here:

    “For the first time in history, Christians in the English-speaking world are using common liturgical texts. In the process of coming to agreed common texts, scholars from different Christian traditions agreed on principles for the translation from the earliest sources. This in itself has been a gift. Despite only having been in existence for a relatively short time, these texts have been adopted freely by an ever increasing number of churches. We celebrate this. They are being experienced as a gift, a sign and a way to Christian unity in our diversity. As the churches continue to discover the riches of these shared texts, we believe further revision is inappropriate at the present time. We invite all who have not yet explored these texts, and those who have departed from their use, to join us in prayerful reflection on the value of common texts and careful consideration of the texts themselves. Prayed together, shared common texts become a part of the fabric of our being. They unite the hearts of Christians in giving glory to God as we undertake the mission of the Gospel.” (from The Reims Statement: Praying with One Voice: On Common Texts and Lectionary in the life of the Churches (Reims, France: 16 August, 2011).

    1. Henry A. Orszulak Avatar

      There are plenty of good ideas expressed here and the need for a good, comprehensible translation is urgent. Nothing will be accomplished however until our bishops decide to take some kind of step toward implementing Pope Francis’ hopes as put forth in his Motu Proprio.
      There seems to be a need for some kind of consciousness raising to lead to positive action. I believe this is a most important challenge but how do we get that across to the bishops and how do you get them to want to do something about it?

      1. Karl Liam Saur Avatar
        Karl Liam Saur

        Probably need way more new bishops.

        If anything, I suspect any “campaign” of the kind people with strong interest are mostly likely to try in our facile technological media would boomerang badly and have the long-term effect of further delay. Kinda like cheap grace.

        That doesn’t mean really effective long-term preparation can’t be undertaken voluntarily. I am thinking of the equivalent of double-digging before planting a perennial bed. It’s hard, unglamorous work that one doesn’t get to enjoy the fruits of immediately. The work I am thinking about has to do with how one forms Catholic faithful, broadly and deeply, into engaging in informed discernment of these matters without looking backwards to nurse resentments from the fiasco of the past. Requires a strong fiduciary detachment from ego needs.

    2. Ben Kalafut Avatar
      Ben Kalafut

      The choice would be between a translation of the Roman Missal and unity with our fellow Roman Rite Catholics or the ELLC texts and unity of language with Protestants, since the ELLC Gloria and Credo differ in more than just superficial ways from the Catholic versions.

      It is also a choice between praying a the Our Father as Anglophones both Catholic and Protestant have for generations–compare the version you know by heart with the 1662 Book of Common Prayer or Cranmer’s version before it–with an alien and rootless new reconstruction (that happens to be even more divergent from the Roman Missal than the traditional version.)

      With no antagonistic intent I ask: Why do you suggest the latter in both cases and not the former? Greater practical unity with Protestants is good but it is not the only good to consider.

  16. Brian Culley, cmf Avatar
    Brian Culley, cmf

    I agree with Rita – as usual.

  17. Stephen Woodland Avatar
    Stephen Woodland

    I agree with the author. However, I think Rome has shot down the proposal from the antipodean bishops. What’s the next step?

    1. Karl Liam Saur Avatar
      Karl Liam Saur

      Maybe prayer, fasting and almsgiving?

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