Pre Vatican 2: Missle or Mistletoe? Catholics Kissed Off?
“Saying he woefully aware of how difficult it is going to be to ‘sell’ faithful Catholics on the new translations of the Catholic missal, a Seattle pastor has begun a nationwide campaign to slowdown the program.
“For some time I’ve followed the bishops’ debates, read many of the new texts, discussed them with brother priests, and visited about them with Catholics in the pews, and I’ve become aware of how difficult it’s going to be to ‘sell’ ordinary, faithful, good Catholics on the new, Latinized translations of the Missal,” said Father Michael G. Ryan, pastor of St. James Cathedral for more than two decades.
“And with good reason, because some of them, in my opinion, are very poor and the principles underlying the translations are highly questionable.”
Ryan: For months I’ve been talking with priest-friends and associates whose reaction to the coming new translations was the same as mine. They lived in dread of them. They felt they were inferior, clumsy, and altogether unworthy of our greatest prayer. And, like me, they knew that the “selling” of the translations to the people would rest on their shoulders and on the shoulders of pastors all over the world. How would they convince their people of the value of making such significant changes if they themselves were not only unconvinced of their value but actually convinced that the translations were a disaster-in-the-making?
The more I thought about this the more I became convinced that something needed to be done, but everyone I talked with told me it was pointless. It was either too late because the translations were all but a fait accompli, or it was futile because no one in authority would pay attention. I suspected they were right but to me that didn’t seem reason enough to remain silent. I kept thinking of our people whose prayer life this is and of my responsibility to them as a pastor. If I didn’t speak up on their behalf – and if no one else did – how would I ever live with myself? So I sat down one day and put my thoughts down on paper. My first couple of drafts were pretty incendiary. My theme was not “What if we just said ‘wait?’” but “What if we just said ‘no?’” It was a call to my brother priests to stand up on behalf of our people and draw a line in the sand.
Over time, I realized that a more reasoned approach that invited the response not just of brother priests but of our people as well would be more constructive and in the spirit of what the church is all about. The church I have served as a priest for nearly 45 years, the church of the Second Vatican Council, is one that values dialogue and honors the fact that the Spirit speaks through all the people, not just the hierarchy. Why not, then, involve them by inviting their response? Why not take the time to test the new translations in a careful and methodical way? Didn’t something of this importance deserve something better than a mandate from on high and a potentially manipulative catechetical program for introducing the new translations?
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