"A question of what our gods are"

Home | Join/Donate

Adoremus, Society for the Renewal of the Sacred Liturgy
Follow AdoremusSociety on Twitter

Online Edition - Vol. VI, No. 8: November 2000

Origin of ICEL'S "Original Texts"
(Part III of III)


by Helen Hull Hitchcock and Susan Benofy

Note: This is the conclusion of a three-part series on the work of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL), the body that has produced translations of liturgical texts since the Second Vatican Council. Part I, "Bishops discuss ICEL Future" (AB June-July 2000) described and reviewed the events that led to the Holy See's letter ordering reform of the structure of ICEL.

Part II, "US Bishops Discuss ICEL Plans" (AB August 2000) was a transcript of part of the June meeting of the US bishops in which Cardinal Francis George, a member of ICEL's Episcopal Board, reported on discussions within ICEL, and presented a proposed new Constitution.

The concluding essay concerns the translating body's composition of original texts for the Liturgy.

Part III - Conclusion

During the debate over the revision of the constitution of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy, ICEL's composition of original texts was the subject of considerable discussion.

These original ICEL texts include many prayers in the Sacramentary and Liturgy of the Hours, as well as the Pastoral Introduction to the Order of Mass. A new version of the latter was approved for publication in July this year, and an early September appearance was announced by the Bishops' Committee on the Liturgy in August. However, it has been delayed. (See "New Liturgy Rules Precede Missal", AB Sept-Oct 2000, and "New Liturgical Books Coming Soon", AB October 1999.)

The first of the "Considerations" in the October 26, 1999 letter from Cardinal Jorge Medina Estévez of the Congregation for Divine Worship to Bishop Maurice Taylor, president of ICEL stressed that

The activities of the Mixed Commission are to be defined as the translation into English of the editiones typicae of the Roman liturgical texts and books in their integrity. Consequently, any proposals for cultural adaptation, modification or the composition of original texts remain the province of the individual Bishops' Conferences, according to the norms of the 1994 Instruction Varietates legitimae and subject to the approval of the Holy See.

The draft constitution presented to the US bishops at their June meeting in Milwaukee did not prohibit ICEL from creating original texts, however. (The proposed new constitution was submitted to the Holy See by the ICEL episcopal board in July.)

ICEL not the "engine"?

Cardinal Francis George, the US representative to the Episcopal Board of ICEL, explained that the point of the Holy See's above Consideration was that ICEL was not to be the "engine" for creating original texts; rather, requests for such texts must come from the conference of bishops. He also pointed out that the conference could ask whomever it wished to compose the desired new texts.

The history of the production of original texts as told by ICEL members themselves, however, makes it clear that ICEL was indeed the "engine" for creating the original texts that appear in the current Sacramentary (the book of prayers for Mass), as well as for those in the proposed revision of the Sacramentary. The revised text of the Sacramentary, approved by the bishops' conference in June 1997, has not received the required confirmation from the Holy See.

These "original texts" are prayers composed in a vernacular language, not based on any Latin original, and added to an official rite. Such texts are mentioned in the 1969 Instruction on the Translation of Liturgical Texts, usually known by its French opening words Comme le prèvoit ("as foreseen"). Paragraph 43 of this instruction [CLP] says:

Texts translated from another language are clearly not sufficient for the celebration of a fully renewed liturgy. The creation of new texts will be necessary. But translation of texts transmitted through the tradition of the Church is the best school and discipline for the creation of new texts so "that any new forms adopted should in some way grow organically from forms already in existence" [The passage in quotes is from the Second Vatican Council's Constitution on the Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium §23].

This instruction was issued in January 1969 after the Consilium, the group appointed by Pope Paul VI to implement the Constitution on the Liturgy, considered the work of a special study group on translation.

According to Monsignor Frederick McManus, a founding member of ICEL, Comme le prèvoit "benefited from the experience of the major joint commissions, including ICEL, whose executive secretary served on an ad hoc coetus studiorum [study group] of the Consilium for this purpose".1 Father Gerald Sigler was then ICEL's Executive Secretary (1965-1970). John Page, who has held that position since 1980, mentions this same study group, and says that "ICEL members" participated in it.2

The formation of such a study group, according to Archbishop Annibale Bugnini, then Secretary of the Consilium for the Implementation of the Constitution on the Liturgy (and later Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship), was proposed at a meeting of the Presidential Council of the Consilium in April 1967.3 He refers to the purpose of the new study group as "the translation of liturgical texts into the vernaculars".4 Its results were presented to the eleventh general meeting of the Consilium in October 1968.5

According to Archbishop Bugnini, this "Instruction on Translation" was reviewed and corrected by Pope Paul VI from an Italian version of the text. (Although it was originally designated as "norms" for translation, the pope asked that it be called an "Instruction" instead.) In a letter sent to the Holy Father along with the document, Bugnini writes:

It was said that the norms were not binding in the same degree as a liturgical book; they were rather a working tool that brought together in a systematic form the general and particular regulations issued by the Consilium during the previous five years.6

The text of the Instruction was published in the semi-official publication of the Holy See, Notitiae, but it never appeared in the official Acta Apostolicae Sedis.7 ICEL was asked by the Consilium to prepare an English text of the Instruction from the original (French, with some additions in Italian), which would then be sent to the conferences of bishops.8

Though this 1969 Instruction, Comme le prévoit, appears to contain the first mention in a Vatican document of original texts (Bugnini calls the pertinent paragraph "an extraordinary expression of openness")9, five years earlier, the "mandate" for ICEL had already listed among its functions: "To work out a plan for the translation of liturgical texts and the provision of original texts where required".10 (Emphasis added.)

Furthermore, according to McManus:

Later it became even more evident that, while the primary task was the translation of Latin texts, liturgical development and adaptation would ultimately demand much more by way of creativity. At the end of the 1960s this became one of the normative principles of the liturgical books themselves: they regularly left to the conference of bishops -- and thus to their instrumentalities, the joint or international commissions like ICEL -- the creation of new vernacular liturgical prayers wherever the Roman books offered alternatives.11

To say that any responsibility given to a bishops' conference is thereby given "to their instrumentalities ... such as ICEL" is unwarranted, however. The bishops have primary authority over the Liturgy, but their "instrumentalities" (such as commissions or appointees) do not, as the 1998 motu proprio of Pope John Paul II, Apostolos Suos, later made clear.

Here, the complementary norms for episcopal conferences state:

Art. 2. ­ No body of the Episcopal Conference, outside of the plenary assembly, has the power to carry out acts of authentic Magisterium. The Episcopal Conference cannot grant such power to its Commissions or other bodies set up by it. (Emphasis added).

Powers granted to a conference of bishops cannot even be assigned to a subgroup of bishops, much less to a group of non-bishop "experts". Many of the most controversial developments in the post-conciliar liturgy are the direct result of "instrumentalities", notably ICEL, effectively assuming an authority granted only to bishops' conferences. The history of the composition of original texts for the English editions of the Roman Missal illustrates the problem very well.

ICEL, the "mixed commission" responsible for translating liturgical texts into English, is a group of eleven bishops, each representing a country where English is the major liturgical language. These eleven bishops are ICEL's Episcopal Board, which has the final authority over ICEL.

A second committee (the Advisory Committee) composed of liturgical experts actually oversees the day-to-day work of translation, however. It is this Advisory Committee, none of whose members is a bishop, which has made many major decisions -- not only about the details of translations, but about various other projects which come under the heading of "inculturation".

One such project is the provision of original prayer texts in English -- that is, not translations, but entirely new prayers in English -- to be included in the official liturgical books in addition to the translated Latin prayers of the Roman Rite. The English language Sacramentary of 1973 contains a number of original ICEL compositions called "alternative opening prayers".

History of ICEL's Original Texts

In a 1990 article on ICEL's original texts, Sister Kathleen Hughes, RSCJ, a long-time member of the ICEL Advisory Committee and of its Subcommittee on Original Texts, says that the English version of the 1973 Sacramentary "was the only vernacular translation of the Missale Romanum to incorporate original compositions in a first edition".12 She traces the history of the development of these texts.

In 1967, a set of sample translations was sent out for comment and criticism. Readers of the booklet were also invited to supply translations of their own for some collects. A report on this project suggested that the characteristics of the Latin prayers made "any satisfactory translation impossible".13 This difficulty, we are told, led to ICEL's interest in composing original prayers. Thus when Comme le prèvoit was published in 1969, "ICEL's Advisory Committee expanded its work on the collects to incorporate the composition of alternative prayers".14

There is no evidence here that the bishops' conferences, or even the individual bishop-representatives on the Episcopal Board, were consulted before this decision was made. Furthermore, there seems to have been no spontaneous request from any bishops' conference for original prayers.

In December 1970, collects from seven translators and original prayers by two authors were circulated to the Advisory Committee for evaluation. Reactions to the translations were mixed and inconclusive, but "of the two authors who had presented alternative prayer texts, one was clearly favored by the Advisory Committee, and the project to provide alternative prayers received the Advisory Committee's vote of confidence".15

The Advisory Committee then sought episcopal consent for the project. A book of sample texts was sent to all the bishops of the sponsoring conferences (about 750 bishops at that time). This so-called "Yellow Book" was, according to Sister Hughes, "a preliminary consultation on the style of the prayers of the Missal prior to the preparation of a complete draft version".

The Yellow Book was divided into three sections. The first contained a sample set of translations "in a style considered conservative", according to Sister Hughes. Each was accompanied by a commentary on the various translation practices ICEL had used, such as amplification of the Latin text and change of metaphors.16

The second section of the Yellow Book proposed a set of optional introductions to the prayers. A third section contained ICEL's original compositions, which were based on the Latin prayers, "but represented considerable original elaboration and development of the Latin".17 It is clear that ICEL members considered these to be original texts, yet they were presented to the bishops as "alternative prayers" with a note which said the new texts "remained within the norms of legitimate liturgical translation".

Comme le prèvoit shell game

A justification from Comme le prèvoit was cited -- not §43 on original texts, but §34, which justifies a free translation from the Latin by using amplification, paraphrase, etc.

That is, although ICEL considered these to be original compositions, and they could be justified as such by reference to CLP §43, they were designated by the more ambiguous term "alternative prayers" in the presentation to the bishops, and justified by reference to a different section of CLP, which allowed the use of various techniques in translation. In fact, the use of these very techniques had been pointed out in the translations in the first section of the Yellow Book.

Given the ambiguous designation and the misleading justification for the prayers in the third section of the Yellow Book, it is doubtful if any bishop realized that these compositions were not translations at all, but new additions to the Rite of Mass.

Sister Hughes makes the remarkable admission that "[t]his citation was included to legitimate an extension beyond what the Instruction had envisioned in that particular paragraph".18 In other words, the misleading ambiguity was intentional.

The questions the bishops were asked to answer in their evaluations were not likely to clarify matters, either.

The section on the translated prayers had three separate questions asking whether specific techniques used in these translations -- "moderate amplification", "concretizing" the original, and inclusion of new metaphors -- were acceptable in principle. In light of this emphasis concerning the translated prayers, a second set of prayers (called "alternative" and justified on the basis of these very same techniques) would likely have appeared to be simply a different application of these techniques -- especially since the Yellow Book was presented as a consultation on the style of prayers to be used in the new Missal.

The second section of questions presented the proposed Invitatories explicitly as optional and original. About these the bishops were asked: "If ICEL provides such invitatories, for optional use, would you recommend that they be included, by authority of your episcopal conference, in missals"?19

In the third section of questions, on the "alternative" prayers, the question was, "Should ICEL provide Alternative Opening Prayers for use at the discretion of the individual episcopal conference"?20

This does not ask, as above, whether the individual responding to the query would want his own conference to have such prayers, only whether ICEL should supply them if some conference wants them.

The returns on this survey of bishops on the proposed new texts were low.

According to a summary published in 1971, fewer than 70 of the questionnaires sent to US bishops were returned. This summary said that only 54 bishops expressed satisfaction with the style of the alternative prayers (nine said they were not satisfactory); and only 53 said they should be provided for use at the discretion of an individual conference (eight bishops expressed opposition to this). A similar number expressed satisfaction with the Latin translations.

Since there were more than 230 bishops in the US at that time, a large majority expressed no opinion on either the translation or the alternative prayers. Thus almost three-fourths of the bishops saw no need for the adaptation ICEL proposed for the alternative prayers.

Apparently, no additional effort was made to elicit the opinion of bishops who did not return the questionnaires, even though official action on liturgical matters requires a 2/3 majority of the de jure Latin rite bishops.

Nevertheless, based on the opinion of a small minority, the Episcopal Board authorized ICEL to develop alternative prayers and to include them in the body of the Missal.

The Alternative Opening Prayers were voted on by the entire body of US Bishops at their November 1973 meeting. It appears that a single vote was taken to approve multiple sets of new prayers including additional optional texts for the Penitential Rite, optional alternatives to the introduction to the Lord's Prayer, additional invitations to the Opening Prayers, and alternative Opening Prayers. All these were approved by a single vote of 213 to 20.

"Not faithful translations"

Only when the complete Missal was published was the real nature of the alternative prayers finally explained. The Foreword to the Missal says:

The alternative opening prayers are not direct or faithful translations of the corresponding Latin text. They follow its theme or are inspired by it, but they are generally more concrete and expansive.21

The Foreword adds that these prayers were "prompted" by §43 of Comme le prèvoit. That is, by the paragraph that speaks of the "creation of new texts", not by the paragraph on amplification that was cited in the original consultation to justify these same texts.

Sister Hughes remarks that some judge the alternative prayers as "not original and creative enough",

However, that the alternative opening prayers exist at all is a major tribute to the International Commission on English in the Liturgy. These prayers represent a first, albeit timorous, step toward the celebration of a fully renewed liturgy.22

ICEL's enthusiasm for original texts continued even after the first translation of the Sacramentary was completed. Its long-range project to revise the translations of all the liturgical books included plans for more original prayers.

In 1982 ICEL set up a new Subcommittee on Original Texts to concentrate on this work, until then part of the work of a Subcommittee on Translations, Revisions and Original Texts. Sister Kathleen Hughes was appointed the first chairman of this new subcommittee.23

Analysis equals deconstruction?

At that time, Sister Hughes had recently completed a doctorate in Liturgy at the University of Notre Dame.

Her dissertation had been a study, from the point of view of linguistics, of the English versions of the Opening Prayers of the Sacramentary, including the Alternative Opening Prayers.24

These latter, in fact, seem to be her primary interest, since they "represent the first significant attempt to produce a euchology more radically adapted to the culture of a people. Such was the motive which sanctioned their creation".25 She is concerned primarily with analyzing the meaning of the prayers, but not merely the surface meaning; she employs a linguistic analysis to determine the "deep structure".

She says: "An analysis is ipso facto an attempt to penetrate beneath the surface meaning of the text by a process of deconstruction".26

Sister Hughes believes that liturgical prayers, and the Opening Prayer in particular, must tell a story: "the community's story, depicting its own self-understanding and its understanding about its covenant relationship with God".27

In more technical language, Sister Hughes asserts that the "deep structure" of the Opening Prayer is the narrative structure. To demonstrate this, she breaks down the Opening Prayers into components and compares these with the components that linguists find in a narrative. She believes that the two sets of components correspond, thus that she has demonstrated the narrative "deep structure" of the Opening Prayers.

Sister Hughes then compares the features found in Opening Prayers translated from the Latin with those found in ICEL's original compositions, the Alternative Opening Prayers, and attempts "to determine if the new alternative prayers differ in any marked degree from the translations of the Latin texts".28 She concludes that "despite similar surface structure in the two sets of prayers the alternative prayers, in their deep structure, have some unique features which make them in some ways better stories".29

Sister Hughes concludes her study with "some reflections on the future directions which an alternative prayer project might take".30 Since the Constitution on the Liturgy insists that "any new forms adopted should in some way grow organically from forms already existing" (§23), she must re-interpret "organic development":

We would propose, at the conclusion of this study, that organic development should be understood and interpreted at the level of the deep structure and not at the surface syntactical level.... Specifically, we wish to propose that the alternative prayers adopted should preserve the deep narrative structure of prayer. Meaning has been, and will be, produced by the structure of the content here understood as the deep structure of the content of the prayer-narratives. Questions of surface structure would be quite secondary. Development would be redefined as actualization of the narrative structure with great freedom of form.31 

Textual engineering

The procedure envisioned here, combined with ICEL's standard procedures, would mean that new prayers must have the structure of a narrative -- and this narrative is to be broken down into its theoretical components or "building blocks". The authors are commissioned to construct new prayers from these "blocks" (perhaps slightly altered). The new texts would then go through a series of reviews by consultants and committees and several rewritings.

Evidently Sister Hughes and other liturgical experts believe that this is the way liturgical prayer should develop. But to view this process as "organic development" is simply not credible.32 Changes in prayer texts that result from this process are not natural responses to people's needs, but artificially constructed according to the theories of "experts". The process more closely resembles genetic engineering than organic development.

In 1981, at a meeting of the Advisory Committee, Sister Hughes gave a paper based on her dissertation, "The Nature and Function of Liturgical Language: One Perspective". The paper "generated a good deal of discussion".33 Apparently it was persuasive. Soon after this, a revised version of her talk was published by ICEL as an "occasional paper".34

As chairman of the Subcommittee on Original Texts, she was now in a position to put her theories into practice.

Second wave of revision begins

ICEL had already begun discussing possible revisions for the Sacramentary. Some work on the Sacramentary continued, but the Subcommittee's first major project was the revision of the Rite of Funerals.35

This was a shorter rite and was one of the first to be issued in vernacular translation, ICEL's translation having been published in 1970. Adaptations in the 1970 rite were not the work of ICEL, but of the Bishops' Committee on the Liturgy (BCL).36 This project proved to be a preview of what was to come, not only in the details of ICEL's procedures, but also in the response of Rome when the revisions were submitted for the necessary approval, the recognitio.

As was the case with the original ICEL Sacramentary, the committee in charge of the project, the Subcommittee on the Presentation of Texts, viewed its task as including:

(1) to recommend new texts where needed; (2) to recommend the deletion of some texts if it seems appropriate; (3) designate those texts which will need revision at some future dates by the Subcommittee on Translations, Revisions, and Original Texts".37 

Revised Rite of Funerals

Like the later revision of the Sacramentary, the revised Rite of Funerals included Pastoral Notes written by ICEL. The purpose of these notes was "to explain the significance of a rite or its parts beyond the limits of the editio typica".38 The revised and rearranged rite, with its additional prayers and pastoral notes, was approved by the ICEL Episcopal Board in 1985.

Then the text was sent to the national conferences of bishops, and it received approval from all English-speaking conferences by early 1986. The approved text was submitted to the Congregation for Divine Worship (CDW) in Rome for the required recognitio. The CDW consulted the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), and confirmation was granted April 29, 1987.

The Holy See's approval was accompanied by a list of modifications that were to be incorporated into the text. Changes were required in the Pastoral Notes, and in some translations that did not convey the complete meaning of the original Latin. In addition, some of ICEL's original compositions were to be revised and others to be eliminated.

Holy See's revisions "enrage"

Members of ICEL reacted angrily to the Holy See's requirements. One wrote:

By the end of my own reading, I find myself in a towering rage. It is clear that the Congregation, or one member of it, is out to humiliate and punish.... The whole business is insulting to the English-speaking members of the hierarchy who are on ICEL.39

ICEL detailed its objections to the modifications, and some conferences lodged protests with the Holy See.

During the course of the discussions, Cardinal Augustin Mayer, Prefect of the CDW, wrote to Cardinal Basil Hume of England, saying,

ICEL would henceforth be restricted in its work to the translation of texts, and only at the direct and specific request of a conference could it compose original texts. Furthermore, the work of adaptation, or even the re-ordering of the format of a given text, was directly the responsibility of a specific conference.40

ICEL objected to this restriction and was supported by some of the member-conferences.

After Cardinal Mayer resigned and a new Prefect, Cardinal Eduardo Martinez Somalo, was appointed, a compromise was reached. Some of the Holy See's modifications of the New Funeral Rite were made optional, though others ­ including all of the modifications of ICEL's original texts ­ were still required.

The restrictions on ICEL's activity were removed.

Despite this, ICEL was still not happy, and "interpreted this response from the CDW as part of a continuing insult to itself and the episcopal conferences".41

With the restrictions removed, however, ICEL continued with its planned projects of revision, adaptation and the composition of new texts, turning its main attention now to the Sacramentary.

New Opening Prayers project

At the same meeting of ICEL's Advisory Committee that had set up the Subcommittee on Original Texts, a resolution passed authorizing a new booklet of a small set of Opening Prayers based on the Scripture readings for some Sundays, along with other prayers. These were intended to be used experimentally in a few places, and these experiments would "give sufficient information to determine the feasibility of the preparation of a three year cycle of opening prayers".42

In 1984, Sister Hughes reported to a joint meeting of the Advisory Committee and Episcopal Board of ICEL that the reaction to the new prayers had been positive. They decided to proceed with the project of writing more new prayers. Although the ICEL Episcopal Board seems to have been involved, there is no indication that the conferences of bishops were consulted. It was not until 1985, however, that the Advisory Committee decided how many prayers would be added to the Sacramentary.

Original texts: imaginative, "inclusive language", new metaphors

The Subcommittee on Original Texts developed its own guidelines for composition of the new prayers. Its members urged that the added prayers be "concrete", "rooted in human experience" and speak of "basic human concerns". The new ICEL prayers were to have universal themes and be "prepared for an international community", avoiding themes that would be suitable only for a particular community or region. They were to use "inclusive language", a "wide range of metaphors" and be "imaginative".43

Originality seems to have been required. Some new prayers were rejected because "they did not represent a new stage of development such as the subcommittee hoped for in new presidential prayers. The language and style of the texts were not sufficiently original".44

New texts added to Sacramentary

Once the new prayers were written, they were included in the proposed revision of the Sacramentary that was sent to the bishops' conferences for approval.

There seems to have been no opportunity for a conference vote one way or the other on ICEL's original texts -- either to express a desire for the original prayers to be included in the Sacramentary for their country, or to request that they be left out. All the English-speaking conferences were sent the proposed revision of the Sacramentary with the original prayers incorporated into the package.

Once a new text is included in ICEL's version of the liturgical books, it is extremely difficult for bishops to remove it. In the case of the original Opening Prayers, a separate motion would have been required for the removal of each prayer. As there are three prayers for each Sunday and major feast, removal would have required more than one hundred fifty separate motions and ballots.

Though many of the bishops had objections to a number of texts as well as items in the Pastoral Notes, the ICEL revision of the Sacramentary was ultimately approved by the national conferences and sent to Rome for the required recognitio. 

Funeral Rite scenario redux?

In some ways the scenario of the Funeral Rite appears to be repeating itself with the Sacramentary process. Approval has been similarly delayed. Again, a letter from the Holy See told the bishops that ICEL's function is to be restricted to faithful translation of the Latin editio typica. Again, there was an outcry from ICEL members claiming that their work was being misjudged and they were being treated unfairly. And again, some bishops support ICEL's claims.

However, this time the constitution of ICEL is actually being revised. The draft of the new constitution presented at the June 2000 meeting of the US bishops incorporated at least some of the changes the Holy See required. Many of the bishops who spoke at the meeting said that even more of the Holy See's "Considerations" should be observed. The Bishops' Committee on the Liturgy passed a resolution with the same advice to ICEL.

In addition, the newly revised Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani (released July 28) added detailed procedures for legitimate adaptation of the Liturgy. Some adaptations of gesture, posture, music, materials for furnishings and vessels, etc., specified by the Missal Institutio, may be made by the Bishops' Conferences and submitted to the Holy See for approval. Any other "variants and points of deeper adaptation" (IGMR §395) for the spiritual good of the faithful must follow a specific procedure. A detailed proposal for such an adaptation must be sent by the bishops' conference to Rome in advance of action.

The Holy See may then authorize the conference to carry out experiments "at specific times and places".

If appropriate, once the period of experimentation is concluded, the Conference of Bishops shall decide upon carrying forward the adaptation and shall make a mature proposal to the Apostolic See for its decision" (§395).

This procedure would be followed for adding Original Prayers as alternatives to those in the editio typica of the Missal. The initiative and much of the supervision of the project would be done by the bishops' conference. And these new procedures require that the Holy See be consulted at the very beginning of such any such project of adaptation.

If these new instructions are followed, changes in the Liturgy would almost certainly come about more slowly than in the past. This slower pace, along with the greater involvement of the entire conference of bishops, could increase the likelihood that any development in the Church's worship will meet a genuine need of the faithful, not merely reflect the desires of a small group of liturgical experts.

If this happens, the reform of the Liturgy could then follow the guiding principle in Sacrosanctum Concilium, the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy of the Second Vatican Council:

Finally, there must be no innovations unless the good of the Church genuinely and certainly requires them, and care must be taken that any new forms adopted should in some way grow organically from forms already existing (SC §23).

Until now, for the nearly forty years since the Council, this key principle has been honored mostly in the breach.


1. Monsignor Frederick R. McManus, "ICEL: The First Years" in Shaping English Liturgy (Washington, DC: The Pastoral Press, 1990), p. 458, Note 19.

2. John Page "ICEL, 1966-1989: Weaving the Words of Our Common Prayer" in Shaping English Liturgy (Washington, DC: The Pastoral Press, 1990), p. 476.

3. Archbishop Annibale Bugnini, The Reform of the Liturgy 1948-1975 (Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1990). Translated by Matthew J. O'Connell. pp. 166-167.

4. Bugnini, p. 169.

5. Bugnini, p. 236.

6. Bugnini, p. 236.

7. Bugnini, p. 236, n. 17.

8. McManus, Shaping English Liturgy, p. 458 fn 9.

9. Bugnini, p. 238.

10. The mandate was printed in a booklet issued by ICEL called English in the Liturgy. It has been reprinted in Jeffrey Michael Kemper, Behind the Text: A study of the principles and procedures of translation, adaptation, and composition of original texts by the International Commission on English in the Liturgy. Ph. D. Thesis, University of Notre Dame, 1993, Appendix 1, p. 366.

11. McManus, Shaping English Liturgy, p. 448.

12. Sister H. Kathleen Hughes, RSCJ "Original Texts: Beginnings, Present Projects, Guidelines" in Shaping English Liturgy p. 219.

13. Hughes, Shaping English Liturgy p. 220, note 3.

14. Hughes, Shaping English Liturgy p. 221.

15. Hughes, Shaping English Liturgy p. 221.

16. Hughes, Shaping English Liturgy p. 222.

17. Hughes, Shaping English Liturgy p. 223.

18. Hughes, Shaping English Liturgy p. 223

19. Prayers of the Roman Missal: An Inquiry Addressed to the Bishops of the Episcopal Conferences Participating in the International Committee on English in the Liturgy (Washington, DC: ICEL, 1971), quoted in Hughes, Shaping English Liturgy p. 223.

20. Ibid.

21. "Foreword to the Sacramentary", Sacramentary (Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1974), p. 14. Quoted in Hughes, p. 233.

22. Hughes, Shaping English Liturgy p. 234.

23. A detailed account of ICEL's principles and procedures for revision of the rites is given in Kemper, Behind the Text (op. cit n. 10 supra.)

24. Helen Kathleen Hughes, RSCJ, The Opening Prayers of The Sacramentary: A Structural Study of the Prayers of the Easter Cycle, Dissertation University of Notre Dame, 1980.

25. Hughes, Opening Prayers, p. 2.

26. Hughes, Opening Prayers, p. 135.

27. Hughes, Opening Prayers, p. 131. The same view of Liturgy is evident in hymns with words that assert that "We come to tell our story " and the like.

28. Hughes, Opening Prayers, p. 130.

29. Hughes, Opening Prayers, p. 341.

30. Hughes, Opening Prayers, p. 344.

31. Hughes, Opening Prayers, p. 345.

32. Sister Hughes does not actually claim that her procedure resembles organic growth; she merely says that she redefines the term. That is, she chooses to use the term "organic growth" in such a way that its meaning is changed to include the sort of procedure she specifies. That the Council Fathers did not intend this meaning does not seem to concern her.

33. Margaret Mary Kelleher, OSU, "New Prayer Texts in the Revised Sacramentary, in Liturgy for the New Millennium: A Commentary on the Revised Sacramentary (Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 2000) p. 80.

34. Sr. Kathleen Hughes, RSCJ, The Language of Liturgy: Some Theoretical and Practical Implications (Washington, DC: International Commission on English in the Liturgy, 1982)

35. A detailed history of the revision of the funeral rite is given in Kemper, Chapter V, pp. 272-360.

36. Kemper, p. 274.

37. Minutes of the Meeting on the Funeral Rite, 7-9 November, 1979. (ICEL Archives) Quoted in Kemper, p. 280.

38. Kemper, p. 281.

39. Letter from James A. Devereaux, SJ, to John Page, July 9, 1987 (ICEL Archives); Quoted in Kemper, pp. 333-334.

40. Kemper, p. 348. Kemper here cites as his source for this information a letter from Cardinal Mayer to Cardinal Hume, Prot. N. 700/88, 21 May 1988. (ICEL Archives)

41. Kemper, p. 355.

42. See Kelleher, p. 81 for text of the resolution, quoted from the Minutes of the Advisory Committee November 2-6, 1982. (ICEL Archives)

43. The guidelines from the Appendix of the Minutes of the Subcommittee on Original Texts, December 14-18, 1985 (ICEL Archives) are quoted in full in Kelleher pp. 84-85.

44. Minutes of the Subcommittee on Original texts, August 25-28, 1986, p. 6, (ICEL Archives, quoted in Kelleher, p. 87).

Credit Card Donations

To donate by credit card:

1. Call our office to donate directly: (314) 863-8385, have your name, address and credit card number ready. If you w ould like automatic donations to Adoremus let us know what date (s) you would like to be billed on.

2. You may also donate by using Network for Good: http://www.networkforgood.org (follow instructions on site)

3. You may donate using PayPal below

US Membership Donation

Foreign Membership Donation

**Adoremus operates solely on your generous donations.**

Adoremus is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Donations are tax deductible.

Site Copyright © 1999 - Present by Adoremus
All rights reserved.

All material on this web site is copyrighted and may not be copied or reproduced without prior written permission from Adoremus, except as specified below:

Personal use
Permission is granted to download and/or print out articles for personal use only.

Brief quotations (ca 500 words) may be made from the material on this site, in accordance with the “fair use” provisions of copyright law without prior permission.  For these quotations proper attribution must be made of author and Adoremus + URL (i.e., Adoremus or Adoremus Bulletin – www.adoremus.org.)

Generally, all signed articles or graphics must also have the permission of the author. If a text does not have an author byline, Adoremus should be listed as the author.  For example: Adoremus (St Louis: Adoremus, 2005 + URL)

Link to Adoremus web site.
Other web sites are welcome to establish links to www.adoremus.org or to individual pages within our site.

Home | Join/Donate | Adoremus Bulletin | Archive | Index | Church Documents | Architecture | Posture | Music | Translation | What's NEW? | FAQ | Search Site | Site Map