Arinze to Skylstad: sorry, not buying it.

By Diogenes (articles ) | May 20, 2006

...or, to respond in ICEL-ese, "And also with you, pal." A letter from Cardinal Arinze shows that, while the liturgy wars continue, the old tactics just aren't doing it. In the latest round of the Roman Missal translation battle, the U.S. bishops dug into their playbook and tried to run Pastoral Hardship Left in order to out-flank Liturgiam authenticam (they explained to Rome, you see, that we faithful are so besottedly in love with the 1974 ICEL Sacramentary that it would be cruel for the Holy See to make us change it for a translation closer to the Latin). Arinze wasn't having any:

2 May 2006

The Most Reverend William Skylstad
Bishop of Spokane
President, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
Prot. n. 499/06/L

Your Excellency,

With reference to the conversation between yourself, the Vice President and General Secretary of the Conference of Bishops of which you are President, together with me and other Superiors and Officials when you kindly visited our Congregation on 27 April 2006, I wish to recall the following:

The Instruction Liturgiam authenticam is the latest document of the Holy See which guides translations from the original-language liturgical texts into the various modern languages in the Latin Church. Both this Congregation and the Bishops’ Conferences are bound to follow its directives. This Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments is therefore not competent to grant the recognitio for translations that do not conform to the directives of Liturgiam authenticam. If, however, there are difficulties regarding the translation of a particular part of a text, then this Congregation is always open to dialogue in view of some mutually agreeable solution, still keeping in mind, however, that Liturgiam authenticam remains the guiding norm.

The attention of your Bishops’ Conference was also recalled to the fact that Liturgiam authenticam was issued at the directive of the Holy Father at the time, Pope John Paul II, to guide new translations as well as the revision of all translations done in the last forty years, to bring them into greater fidelity to the original-language official liturgical texts. For this reason it is not acceptable to maintain that people have become accustomed to a certain translation for the past thirty or forty years, and therefore that it is pastorally advisable to make no changes. Where there are good and strong reasons for a change, as has been determined by this Dicastery in regard to the entire translation of the Missale Romanum as well as other important texts, then the revised text should make the needed changes. The attitudes of Bishops and Priests will certainly influence the acceptance of the texts by the lay faithful as well.

Requesting Your Excellency to share these reflections with the Bishops of your Conference I assure you of the continued collaboration of this Congregation and express my religious esteem,

Devotedly yours in Christ,

+Francis Card. Arinze

Prefect, Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments


Loss of eight. Fourth and twenty-two. And the punting unit, led by John Huels, is coming onto the field.

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  • Posted by: - May. 26, 2006 2:52 PM ET USA

    Trautman might find a more receptive audience in Greenland. These wayward bishops do not a have permanent appointment in the dioceses. Why should the faithful in those places be subjected to such nonsense?

  • Posted by: - May. 23, 2006 5:16 PM ET USA

    I hate to be intolerant, but I think Rome is going to have to bring out the episcopal rack and threaten a few Bishops and Cardinals with some "Sweatin' to the Oldies -- Dominican Version" before these "Monty Python Bishops" (trademark and patents pending) get with the new league's rules. I hear Cardinal Pell often crashes through the line and lays a few prelates unconscious.

  • Posted by: - May. 23, 2006 4:13 PM ET USA

    Time and time again we are fooled by pontifications from the highest offices in Rome. They make great copy ... but bring no results. The reason they bring no results lies in the want of enforcement. Bad bishops (and we all know who they are) continue to reign. They aren't publicly exposed and fired. They aren't even quietly retired - unless they request retirement or reassignment. The hierarchy may improve by attrition alone (waiting for Roger to turn 75, for example), but I doubt it.

  • Posted by: - May. 23, 2006 8:46 AM ET USA

    Priests and Bishops are pulling the "poor me" argument and answer to everything a little too much lately. It is getting quite tiring and boring and no one is buying it anymore. Time they grew up like the rest of us and became responsible adults in the profession that they have chosen. If called by God then they should follow Him, not their own sad souls and any trendy thing that they think will get people back into the pews to support their bad habits and thinking. See the empty churches.

  • Posted by: - May. 22, 2006 11:35 PM ET USA

    Anyone read" Reform of the Roman Liturgy It's Problems and Background",very informative. I would suggest that all who are dissatisfied with whats been going on for the last 35 yrs,get it read it or get the tapes.

  • Posted by: Gertrude - May. 22, 2006 7:24 PM ET USA


  • Posted by: - May. 22, 2006 3:55 PM ET USA

    I wonder if Bishop Skylstad will tell the other USA bishops that Rome has approved his plan. I hope he does - maybe he can end up in retirement with that other poor comprehender of Letters from headquarters- Cardinal McCarrick. Thank God for the internet and blogs! Keep up the good work.

  • Posted by: Fr. Walter - May. 22, 2006 3:25 PM ET USA

    There is an irony that the Ordinary of a "bankrupt" Diocese is now the "president " of a bankrupt episcopal conference. Bishop Skylstad is a weak man, more and more an object of pity. I suspect he longs, like many of his episcopal colleagues, for those wonderful days of the '70s, when the bishops could get away with anything. Men like him allowed the lavender scandal to develop in the Church, while at the same time crushing our spiritual treasures under bland, uninspiring language.

  • Posted by: Eleazar - May. 22, 2006 12:06 PM ET USA

    It is a good letter, with good news, but it could have been better. If only Cdl. Arinze could have added, "William, you’re fired!”

  • Posted by: - May. 22, 2006 10:00 AM ET USA

    Cardinal Medina's letter regarding the ICEL was even stronger!

  • Posted by: Te_Deum - May. 21, 2006 9:00 PM ET USA

    Looked like an interception of a Hail Mary pass if you ask me. What cracks me up is that this is no where to be found at the USCCB website, Catholic News Services website, nor at the Diocese of Spokane website. In fact, if it weren't for Off the Record and countless bloggers spreading the message like wildfire, would anyone know? Just think about the average Catholic in the pew who has no idea all of this is going on. It's easy to maintain status quo when people don't know!

  • Posted by: Venerable Aussie - May. 21, 2006 7:56 PM ET USA

    Help Diogenes! Can you do an Aussie Rules version?

  • Posted by: Clorox - May. 21, 2006 11:41 AM ET USA

    The curious little secret is that ICEL has ceased being a weapon of Mass destruction. (There remains a couple of soft spots in the new translation, but the errors may be tweaked in Rome.) The tables have turned: ICEL is no longer an enemy of the Church; but it has become an enemy of Bishop Trautperson. The good guys could still lose, but Bishop Fishperson (to be inclusive) is just the man to fumble the ball. The June meeting of Bishops will be very interesting.

  • Posted by: - May. 21, 2006 10:58 AM ET USA

    An old football saying should be the maxim Of Cardinal Arinze; Meet at the quarterback.

  • Posted by: khall356141 - May. 21, 2006 9:31 AM ET USA

    I hate to sound like a stuck record but... Great letter, and yet Cardinal Mahony is still Yertle the Turtle in L.A. and he will continue to ignore this and any other strong letter, apparently with impunity, apparently forever and ever amen.

  • Posted by: parochus - May. 21, 2006 3:43 AM ET USA And why is "Father" Huels still with us? Oh yeah, he's Canajun.

  • Posted by: - May. 21, 2006 2:08 AM ET USA

    Diogenes shares a common trait with me - satire is his favorite vitamin, and irony is his favorite mineral - so I won't begin to believe for a second the "letter" is authentic, along the lines of "fool me once ..." I just wish I knew how to post original stuff here - apparently it is a Gnostic secret. But for sure, everyone agrees that the Latin Liturgy translation into English is woeful and pitiful and the 2006 release of a new version has now - for whatever reason, been pushed to 2007+.

  • Posted by: - May. 21, 2006 12:24 AM ET USA

    What the US bishops have failed to internalize is that the laity are better informed, as a rule as well or better educated, and possessed of a greater desire for holiness than the average priest ordained over the past forty years. Trautman of Erie is a stellar example of misguided noblesse oblige. Our demands are simple and non-negotiable: stop perverting the liturgy, cleanse the Church of its widespread filth, and, for once, shut up.

  • Posted by: - May. 20, 2006 7:20 PM ET USA

    The play shows the fullback going off tackle LEFT. (appropriate) It looks like the cornerback is left free while everyone else is blocked...who might that cornerback be, and will he make the play?

  • Posted by: - May. 20, 2006 6:25 PM ET USA

    Sometimes, I think that it would be better for the Vatican to come up with its own English translation and then pass it to the Conferences and ask what needs to be discussed. I recall a translation of the 2nd typical edition by Fr. M. O'Keefe, SJ that when compared to the ICEL translation shows not only the poor quality, but it also makes one question why we bother with ICEL.

  • Posted by: JARay - May. 20, 2006 6:15 PM ET USA

    Well, Cardinal Arinze's letter is very blunt indeed. Something like this has been needed for far too long.

  • Posted by: rpp - May. 20, 2006 3:53 PM ET USA

    Will the punt be blocked or will the kicker be sacked for a safety?

  • Posted by: - May. 20, 2006 2:32 PM ET USA

    The US Church has been in violation of the liturgy prescribed by VII in 1969. All fixed parts of the Mass are to be in Latin. Variable parts the Council permitted to be in the vernacular (8 parts). " There must be no innoviations unless the good of the Church genuinely requires them" -SC 23. This has not been followed. English has been forced into the fixed parts of the Mass. Get these recalcitrant bishops back into conformity with VII and Rome.

  • Posted by: Vincit omnia amor - May. 20, 2006 1:57 PM ET USA

    Good for the Church, good for us! God bless Card. Arinze. This was a very strong statement.

  • Posted by: - May. 20, 2006 12:50 PM ET USA

    Welcome to the administration of Benedict XVI. No punting allowed.