Liturgists Worry About Implementation of the New Roman Missal
In this week's Signs of the Times, liturgists voice their concerns about the translation and implementation of the new Roman Missal:
Meetings of North American liturgists last month provided a first impression of how well the upcoming introduction of the new Roman Missal is likely to proceed. Attendees at conferences of the North American Academy of Liturgy and the Catholic Academy of Liturgy in San Francisco described liturgists as frustrated with the process that led to the new missal and displeased with the quality of the translation, but resigned to its inevitability.
“I wouldn’t say people are jumping up and down about it,” the Rev. Michael Driscoll of the University of Notre Dame said. “It’s going to be a hard sell, but we’re going to be doing our part to help. The attitude is: ‘This is a translation, not the translation.’” Referring to the International Commission on English in the Liturgy and to the Vox Clara Committee, he added, “We have to be respectful of the bishops’ committee and the I.C.E.L. and the [Vox Clara Committee], but this is probably not the definitive translation.” In 15 or 20 years, said Father Driscoll, “Who knows? It’s helpful to take the long view; that’s a very Catholic thing to do.”
One notable response came from Anthony Ruff, O.S.B., who teaches theology at St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minn., and who served as chairman of I.C.E.L.’s music committee. He wrote an open letter to the U.S. Bishops in which he described his decision to withdraw from speaking engagements at eight dioceses around the United States intended to help promote the new missal.
In his letter, he said that [promoting the new missal] is something he no longer can agree to “with integrity.” Father Ruff wrote, “I’m sure bishops want a speaker who can put the new missal in a positive light, and that would require me to say things I do not believe.” He submitted the letter with the permission of his Benedictine superiors.
...“My involvement in that process,” he wrote, “as well as my observation of the Holy See’s handling of scandal, has gradually opened my eyes to the deep problems in the structures of authority of our church.
“The forthcoming missal is but a part of a larger pattern of top-down impositions by a central authority that does not consider itself accountable to the larger church,” Father Ruff wrote. “When I think of how secretive the translation process was, how little consultation was done with priests or laity, how the Holy See allowed a small group to hijack the translation at the final stage, how unsatisfactory the final text is, how this text was imposed on national conferences of bishops in violation of their legitimate episcopal authority…and then when I think of Our Lord’s teachings on service and love and unity…I weep.”
UPDATE (4/4/11; 1:43 p.m.): Over at Father Ruff's blog, news of the Association of Catholic Priests, a group of Irish clergy, also voicing their opinion of the New Missal, calling the translation "unacceptable." Read the story here.