The America community (readers, viewers, etc.) will remember the Rev. Michael Ryan's article "What if We Just Said 'Wait'?" which proposed delaying the roll-out of the new English translation of the Roman Missal, scheduled for this Advent. The article drew 239 online comments, was linked to and quoted all over Catholicland and spawned a website and Facebook page under the same rubric (pun intended), as well as a petition that garnered some 22,000 signatories, many of them prominent Catholic scholars, thinkers, liturgists, etc. (By way of identification, Fr. Ryan has been pastor of St. James Cathedral in Seattle since 1988.) Now with the changes upon us, he has published a new piece in The Tablet, entitled "Time to Say Yes," in which he argues against those who feel that in those places where the translation is poor, they will opt to "modify" the text for their parishioneres. (The most commonly cited passage is the translation of Christ dying pro multis, which is being rendered not as the familiar "for all," but "for many," a topic covered in this America article "For You and Who Else?")
Fr. Ryan writes: "To be sure, it is a rare priest who declares he will not implement the new Missal. When it comes to the people’s parts, there is really very little choice unless he wants to risk suspension. But when it comes to the celebrant’s parts, the reaction I am hearing more and more is: 'I’ll use the new Missal but I will feel free to modify texts whenever I consider them to contain questionable theology, awkward grammar, inaccessible vocabulary, or offensively gender-exclusive language.'"
Ryan's response is, in essence, to let the full translation stand on its own. "Since most of my priest friends and colleagues are aware of my America article, they ask me what I intend to do. I surprise them by saying that I intend to implement the new Missal and not change a word, no matter how questionable or offensive I may personally find it. Why? Not because I am a legalist or a purist. No, I will make no changes because I am convinced that, after all the years of wrangling and behind-the-scenes manoeuvring (including the shelving of the elegant and accessible 1998 ICEL translation), the only way the new Missal will have its full impact is if the People of God can judge it for themselves without edits of any kind.
"This is another way of saying that the new Missal should be allowed to stand on its own and be judged for what it is, not for what we priests decide to make of it. I am of the opinion that the Missal will in time – I’m guessing not a long time – be judged deficient, but an informed judgement will never be made if we priests, even for the best of motives, give our people not the new Missal but our version of it. So we should do whatever is necessary to prepare our people for the new Missal but not take on the responsibility for making it work by doctoring or diluting it."
Read the full article at The Tablet.