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translation shock: faithful to flee full churches

By Diogenes (articles ) | Jan 10, 2007

Vox Clara, the Roman commission assisting in the preparation of a new English translation of the Mass in conformity with the instruction Liturgiam authenticam, received two crushing body-blows this week, delivered by internationally recognized experts in the field of pastoral liturgy, both of whom were scathingly critical of the return to "sacral" language. The first blast was dealt by Bishop Donald Trautman, Bishop of Erie and chair of the U.S. Bishops' Committee on the Liturgy, in the course of an address to the Catholic Academy of Liturgy in Toronto. The NCR's John Allen gives the gist (tip to Bill Cork):

According to a press release issued by a member of the academy's Executive Committee, Jesuit Fr. Keith Pecklers of Rome's Gregorian University, Trautman "contended that the new translations do not adequately meet the liturgical needs of the average Catholic," and he "expressed fears that the significant changes in the texts no longer reflect understandable English usage."

"Trautman argued that the proposed changes of the people's parts during the Mass will confuse the faithful, and predicted that the new texts will contribute to a greater number of departures from the Catholic Church," the release stated.

Trautman also challenged a recent ruling from the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments that the Latin phrase pro multis in the formula for the consecration of the Precious Blood should be rendered as "for many" rather than the current English phrase "for all."

Comparably devastating to the new translation endeavor were the remarks of Dr. A.J.P. Funicello, Director of the Center for Accelerator Mass Spectrometry at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Marcoux Professor of Christodramatics at Cal State Fullerton.[See note below] Off The Record was able to conduct a telephone interview with Funicello at her office.

OTR: Professor, what do you feel the impact of the revised translation will be on the lay faithful?

AJF: Well uncle di we here at livermore believe that language like is a dynamic and not a static reality so when you try to make it sacred or sacral it doesn't speak to my own experience as a mature educated adult and a person of gender

OTR: And you think this linguistic disconne --

AJF: in a fully renewed like faith community we celebrate being who we are as ourselves and talking about god as something like out there makes you feel small and funny inside and this new liturgy thing will contribute to departures I mean I and my stepdaughter don't do the church thing but if we did I mean the language well it's not how I talk and it would make us feel pain and hurt and it would make us like depart if we hadn't departed already

OTR: If we consider for a momen --

AJF: and take the example of for many uncle di I mean that makes me feel left out because all means all and many doesn't and besides in my habilitationsschrift Beach Blanket Benefice tübingen 1967 I like demonstrate that the aramaic vorlage of pro multis really means like we're a people gathered faithfully together and when I listened to the proposed translation on all things considered I cried

OTR: Then if I understand you correc --

AJF: and when I hear and with your spirit I freak I mean I suppose people said that to each other every day back in the fifties but today we say like see you next week

Vox Clara chairman Cardinal George Pell was unavailable for comment.

NOTE: The senior communications officer at Cal State Fullerton has sent CWN the following request:

The item at the above link under the heading "translation shock: faithful to flee full churches" includes remarks from A.J.P. Funicello, who is identified as Director of the Center for Accelerator Mass Spectrometry at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Marcoux Professor of Christodramatics at Cal State Fullerton.

Cal State Fullerton has no such professorship or individual by this name serving on the faculty or staff.

Also, the website for the center at the Livermore lab lists another individual as director:

Is this intended to be a humorous item? In any case, a corrected posting would be appreciated.

We note that in fact Annette Funicello is not a member of the faculty at Cal State Fullerton. Nor is she an employee of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The U.S. Bishops' Committee on the Liturgy is, of course, wholly imaginary.

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Show 22 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: - Jan. 13, 2007 1:14 PM ET USA

    Leaving the Church is not a viable option. A friend of mine did have a solution that worked for him. He simply changed rites. After all, there are other rites to the Catholic Church. They have not butchered the liturgy. More chanting and somewhat longer masses, but on the whole they preserve the devout and pious atmosphere once a hallmark of the Roman Rite. It is a tempting alternative.

  • Posted by: - Jan. 11, 2007 6:01 PM ET USA

    That Tabernacle looks very much like the set piece in the 60's Star Trek where Spock's brain was stolen.

  • Posted by: - Jan. 11, 2007 3:16 PM ET USA

    That's a tabernacle? I thought the round thing might be some sort of thought-transfer helmet where the clergy can commune with Lucifer. The images behind it look more like chickens staring up into space than anything else. Dumb question from a no-longer-Episcopalian...shouldn't the tabernacle be on the altar? Please don't tell me that's it!

  • Posted by: Deacon Bart - Jan. 11, 2007 2:35 PM ET USA

    esalkin,I agree it is tacky-looks like 6 heavily stylized angels holding a loaf of bread. The 7 archangels minus Lucifer, perhaps? If I was an angel, I think I'd be annoyed but at least it doesn't appear to be a direct insult, just incredibly poor taste.

  • Posted by: - Jan. 11, 2007 12:59 PM ET USA

    Mattiacum; Thanks for the link. I feel much better knowing that it is just tacky modern art and not an architect insulting Christ.; Thanks for letting me know about Annette's condition. We will pray for her.

  • Posted by: Sir William - Jan. 11, 2007 12:46 PM ET USA

    Warren: "With most not schooled in Latin, there was little need to give much thought to what was being said." Baseless charge. Missals had English as well as Latin. I have my mother's, hers at age 12. Latin was still being taught in school, too. My mother had Latin in public school and it was not optional (class of 1961). We hear the 'benefits' of 'immersion' in language as a means to learn it. Being 'immerged' daily/wkly at Mass could make Latin comprehensible to most.

  • Posted by: Chestertonian - Jan. 11, 2007 11:58 AM ET USA

    Warren, that's a goodly part of it, I'm sure, and I would welcome the return to Latin. We also need much better training of lectors/readers, many of whom sound as though they're reading a laundry list rather than the Word of Life--no care, no preparation, no understanding. Not surprising when the rest of the Liturgy is so poor. God is merciful indeed to tolerate such sad "worship". The traditional Mass was, and can be again, full of beauty and majesty.

  • Posted by: voxfem - Jan. 11, 2007 7:05 AM ET USA

    Bp Trautman's concern for the faithful didn't extend to his own diocese when he dictated that no one may kneel after the Lamb of God. He has fostered division, upset long practice, and demanded obedience. Yet he doesn't want to be obedient to the Holy Father and freely speaks against the Vatican's attempts to restore dignity to the Mass. And I worry about the new lectionary translation that was vetted by performers to see if it was proclaimable. It's a ridiculous reason to change God's word.

  • Posted by: depeccatoradvitam - Jan. 11, 2007 12:26 AM ET USA

    No great surprise in Trautman. He has rebuffed some of the finest and most faithful sons (Burke, Bruskewitz, Chaput, etc.) on this. His ilk tried to ramrod a US no-change through, then a set of "our changes because we are different from all other English speakers". Then rebuffed by the formation of Vox Clara, yet more foot dragging, Finally, Liturgiam Authenticam; again, defiant, Then Cdl Arinze sent a letter down, finally passed. Holdout now is defiance. Bets on already Papal approved Ignatius?

  • Posted by: - Jan. 10, 2007 9:49 PM ET USA

    See it along with the church it's in - in Rome, of all places. - a blogger's pictures - from the parish's own website

  • Posted by: Bernadone - Jan. 10, 2007 9:37 PM ET USA

    Dear Servant of God's servants, You say "I am saddened but unsurprised by any and all objections to change. People become comfortable with the status quo, mediocre or not. " Could that by why so many I hear from seem to want to go back to Latin and the rest of the pre-Vatican Mass? With most not schooled in Latin, there was little need to give much thought to what was being said.

  • Posted by: - Jan. 10, 2007 8:35 PM ET USA

    I recall vividly the day Mass in the vernacular became the norm in my childhood parish without preamble. One Sunday we had Latin; the next English. We must have been given more credit as sentient beings by bishops 41 years ago. There was no concern that we weren't going to be able to adapt to sudden change and adapt quickly. Now, however, we are discussing understanding English vs. English. They must think we're "stuck on stupid". They must be stroking their own egos.

  • Posted by: Chestertonian - Jan. 10, 2007 7:02 PM ET USA

    Eeeuuuuurrrrggghhhh! As a Reader (female lector) who has winced through 7+ yrs of the current translation, I am saddened but unsurprised by any and all objections to change. People become comfortable with the status quo, mediocre or not. But, the need for accuracy in the translation is paramount, with proper grammar and some sense of the poetic following closely behind. We lost many with the change to the vernacular; their return should make up for any new losses--no great loss, I think.

  • Posted by: Italiana - Jan. 10, 2007 6:38 PM ET USA

    I think you could be wrong. I don't think the Tabernacle is wearing a Mickey Mouse hat. I think it's a Batman Tabernacle (see the little ears sticking up?) and IT is wearing the Mickey Mouse hat. The superimposed Cross must have fainted because it's lying sideways. And Annette was my idol when I was a kid, so please don't make fun of her. She has a lot of medical problems.

  • Posted by: - Jan. 10, 2007 4:50 PM ET USA

    I know Trautman well, because I live in his diocese. He's a highly intelligent, holy man who is simply and utterly wrong on this issue. Unfortunately, he seems to have become enthralled with the adulation of the deviants who populate the various commissions and "liturgy committees," and has given his fine intellect over to their service. His comments are particularly ironic given the general conservatism of Erie, where traditionalists abound and parishioners disdain ANY change in the Mass.

  • Posted by: robin - Jan. 10, 2007 4:46 PM ET USA

    That is a sad tabernacle. Listen SSPX should just build more chapels. If the Pope and SSPX patch things up those of us who want Latin Mass and tradition will attend SSPX. Those who want to attend things as they are can continue in the local parishes that do not want to return to tradition of 1900+ years. We will see which churches continue to grown and flourish and who closes their doors. Enough said.

  • Posted by: - Jan. 10, 2007 4:10 PM ET USA

    Bp. Trautman is an interesting piece of work. The more he pronounces his concern the more valuable he becomes to those folks attracted to the SSPX. They had better start building more chapels and churches since he is one of their best salesmen. One might refer to him with that classic phrase as a "useful idiot".

  • Posted by: - Jan. 10, 2007 1:53 PM ET USA

    Is that a real tabernacle? If so, I hope to God that it is not in central Florida. "Hidden mickeys" are incorporated everywhere around there but to have one on a tabernacle would be a sacrilege beyond "artistic licence" that cannot be excused. Translation for liberal readers: Having a "hidden mickey" on a "bread cupboard" is disrespectful of catholic culture and implies an endorsement of religion by Disney corp.

  • Posted by: - Jan. 10, 2007 1:36 PM ET USA

    In the 40's and 50's our Churches were jammed and we had Latin which most of the faithful did not understand. At every turn the bishops have to constantly make excuses for their ineffectual leadership rather than trying to go forward from the disastrous interpretation of Vatican II.

  • Posted by: - Jan. 10, 2007 12:44 PM ET USA

    "will contribute to a greater number of departures from the Catholic Church" ? Hmm - just who (or whom) will be leaving? And what about those who might return?

  • Posted by: - Jan. 10, 2007 12:39 PM ET USA

    Where did you find that Mickey Mouse tabernacle, Uncle Di? Austria? Linz? Los Angeles? Inquiring minds wish to know.

  • Posted by: - Jan. 10, 2007 12:25 PM ET USA

    (Wo)men without Chests.