Msgr. Jim Moroney: Pope Emeritus Benedict was Liturgical Leader with Exceptional Support for the New English Missal

The National Catholic Register writes that

Msgr. James Moroney had the privilege of working with Pope Benedict on the completion of the new English translation of the Roman Missal, which was implemented in Advent 2011.

Moroney is rector of St. John Seminary in Boston and executive secretary to the Vox Clara Committee involved in final approval of the new Missal.

Moroney speaks of Benedict’s “exceptional support” of the re-translation of the Roman Missal into English, and his desire for “an ever deeper, fuller participation of the faithful,” made possible with a more accurate [sic] translation.

Read the story here, “Benedict XVI Put Liturgy Front and Center.”

New American Bible to be Revised

First there was the NAB in 1970, the New American Bible for U.S. Catholics. Then the New Testament was revised in 1986 – the RNAB. In 2011 the revised edition with revised Old Testament appeared – NABRE.

Meanwhile, the U.S. lectionary saw the light of day in 1998. Its production was a politically sordid story. The Scripture text in the lectionary (still in use) is RNAB, sort of. Seems that lots of changes were made to the translation, on questionable scholarly grounds, with the involvement of Msgr. James Moroney. Hmmm, that reminds me of … oh, never mind.

Some of you might remember the howls of objection to contemporary scripture translations from Fr. Richard John Neuhaus at First Things. He didn’t like the “Altered Revised New American Bible” (ARNAB) of the US lectionary at all. (That’s a made up term, btw, and RJN got it from me.) Near as I can tell, RJN favored the RSV because of the principle that Bible translations should be The Version I Grew Up With.

Many have regretted that the US lectionary uses a translation (“ARNAB”) not found in any published bible. Sure would be nice if Bible study, catechetics, and liturgy could all use the same version.

And now we hear the good news that all this will be fixed. CNA reports:

The U.S. bishops have announced a plan to revise the New Testament of the New American Bible so a single version can be used for individual prayer, catechesis and liturgy.

“The goal is to produce a single translation,” said Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington, D.C. on June 14.

It will take a long time, of course, since so many considerations come into play.

Let’s hope the process works. I predict it will. I predict the bishops and the Roman officials will consult with the best scholars, work collegially, take pastoral considerations seriously, listen to all the voices, and carry out the work with transparency and a sense of accountability to the People of God. The final product will unite the Church, renew our liturgical spirituality, and enhance the credibility of the hierarchy. Surely??


Msgr. Jim Moroney named rector of St. John’s Seminary in Boston

Cardinal Seán O’Malley, OFM Cap., announced today that he has appointed Msgr. James P. Moroney as rector of Saint John’s Seminary in Brighton, Massachusetts on July 1, 2012. Cardinal Seán expressed his gratitude to Bishop Robert J. McManus, Bishop of Worcester, for his willingness to release Msgr. Moroney for this important work.

Msgr. Moroney, a Priest of the Diocese of Worcester for the past thirty-two years (ordained in 1980), is currently professor of Sacred Liturgy at Saint John’s Seminary and also serves as Executive Secretary of the Vox Clara Committee.  Msgr. Moroney previously served as rector of the Cathedral Church of Saint Paul in Worcester and as Executive Director of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat for the Liturgy from 1996-2007. Pope John Paul II appointed him, and Pope Benedict XVI has reappointed him, as consultor to the Congregation for Divine Worship in Rome. He pursued graduate studies at the Pontifical Gregorian University, the Pontifical Liturgy Institute at Saint Anselmo’s, and the Catholic University of America.

Msgr. Moroney is a frequent lecturer in liturgical matters, having addressed the presbyterates of 110 dioceses in recent years.  He is author of the recently revised The Mass Explained: An Introduction to the New Roman Missal and host of “The New and Eternal Word” on the Catholic Television Network.

The Cardinal expressed his confidence that Msgr. Moroney would bring “his extensive experience in teaching priests and seminarians throughout the United States to the work of promoting the service of Saint John’s Seminary to the Bishops of New England and, indeed, the Catholic world.  His longstanding work for the Holy See and the Bishops of our country has prepared him in a wonderful way for his new role as rector of the Seminary community.”

Msgr. Moroney on poetic beauty and bottom-up collaboration

Monsignor James Moroney, teacher at Saint John’s Seminary in Boston and head of the Vox Clara Committee which oversaw the new missal translation, spoke on Boston public radio on the poetic beauty and the bottom-up collaborative process of the new Missal translation. Here are two excerpts of  his comment, the first on beauty and the second on collaboration:

[The Vatican is making the change] to make the language accessible but at the same time to reflect fully what the Latin text said – in other words, the poetry, the beauty, the depth of the language. So that’s a difficult thing to translate for contemporary times. But poetry and beauty, I think, is appreciated in every age. … It’s really in the priests’ parts where this is a much greater poetic expression reflective of the poetry that’s in the ancient text we’ve preserved through all these years.

I think that’s hard to say [that this is a move to a church ruled more rigidly by the Vatican] when we’ve never consulted as many people on anything as we have since the Second Vatican Council. Bishops consults hundreds of people in every one of their dioceses, from ordinary lay folks to people who are academics, to priests and pastors, and so forth. Never has there been a more bottom up process for producing a translation in the history of the Church. … What matters is what it is, after a long collaborative process in the Church, the Church has discerned.

I have no comment. Perhaps you do?


Informed of multiple errors, Congregation for Divine Worship did little or nothing

You still remember the Gray Book and the Received Text and the number 10,000 and the internal report “Areas of Difficulty,” right? How’s that? You want a refresher? OK, here we go.

The Gray Book is the final version of the missal translation ICEL sends to the national bishops’ conferences, after having worked for many years with the conferences in developing it. Then the conferences approve the Gray Book, sometimes as is, sometimes with a few amendments, and send it to Rome for recognitio (= approval).

Last summer the story leaked that Rome allowed a few people on Vox Clara to redo the final text. They made over 10,000 changes – introducing all sorts of mistranslations, contorted English, and even theological errors. Since Vox Clara had received every draft translation over the previous years with opportunity to give feedback, it was especially puzzling that they held back all the way through, and then at the last stage undid and redid whatever they wanted.

Perhaps we’ll never know who was responsible for this mischief, but in some circles they speak of the Missale Moronicum. Its other name is the “Received Text” – the text received by Pope Benedict at a luncheon on April 28, 2010 with Msgr. James Moroney and everyone else from Vox Clara.

Xavier Rindfleisch wrote four articles for Pray Tell (part one, part two, part three, and part four) comparing the ICEL 2008 Gray Book text to the 2010 Received Text.

Enter the internal report, “Areas of Difficulty in the Received Text of the Roman Missal,” reported on by Pray Tell and later leaked by someone on WikiSpooks. Whoever wrote it – we’re sure it’s someone within the translation machinery – knows his stuff. The internal report is a devastating critique of the problems in the Received Text.

The final text which will appear in our missals next November has been leaked at WikiSpooks.

Put these three things together:
* the Received Text,
* the internal report showing the problems in the Received Text,
* and the final text,
and you have a rare opportunity to examine how Rome responds to highly competent critique of its work. Does the final text correct the problems? Does it address the grave concerns of the report?

Pray Tell is happy to report that Xavier Rindfleisch is back! And he has done exactly this work. He lays out in summary form each problem identified in the internal report, noting whether or not the problem is corrected in the final text. See Xavier’s full report here:

The 2010 Received Text, the Internal Report, and the Final Text” by Xavier Rindfleisch.

According to our math, the internal report identifies some 208 examples of problems in the Received Text. Of these, the Congregation for Divine Worship of the Holy See has corrected 49 in the final text. That is to say, most of the constructive assistance has been ignored.

Further examination reveals some patterns in the 49 corrections made: they tend to be rather minor. Six of them involve changing a semicolon to a comma. Eight of them concern capitalization of “Lord.” One of them involves changing a pronoun back to exclusive language – “him” instead of “them” – to be consistent with the rest of the final text. Thirteen of the changes in the prefaces are doubtfully an improvement. The Received text had
…as we sing the hymn of your glory,
without end we acclaim:
– which confuses what is modified by “without end.” That has been made clearer in the final text, but the word order of the last line is still clumsy:
…we sing the hymn of your glory,
as without end we acclaim:

Readers can examine the other 28 changes for themselves.