NCCB Debate on Liturgical Revisions What the bishops said…  
Nov 15, 1993

NCCB Debate on Liturgical Revisions What the bishops said…  

NCCB Debate on Liturgical Revisions What the bishops said…  

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Adoremus, Society for the Renewal of the Sacred Liturgy

Originally printed in Voices ( 

Vol IX: Documentary Supplement

April 1994   

NCCB Debate on Liturgical Revisions What the bishops said…  

FOLLOWING IS A TRANSCRIPTION of audio and videotapes of the U. S. bishops’ debate on liturgical revisions recorded at the November 1993 meeting of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops [NCCB] in Washington, D.C. The bishops’ discussion concerning the proposed liturgical revisions, and was by far the most lengthy and intense – and surely the most important – during the four-day meeting. The entire NCCB meeting was telecast live by EWTN.  

The sessions transcribed took place on Monday, November 15, and Wednesday, November 17.   On Monday, the bishops considered procedures for approving the first segment of the revised Roman Missal (Sacramentary) presented by the Bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy [BCL] and prepared by the International Commission on English in the Liturgy [ICEL]; and they opened debate on the Grail Psalter, Inclusive Language Version (by the Ladies of the Grail, England). 

The debate continued on Wednesday, November 17. The bishops agreed on a nine-point procedure which will involve review of the ICEL texts by the Doctrine Committee before they are represented to the bishops by the BCL for vote.   Although the new Grail Psalter had already been granted an imprimatur by Archbishop Keeler on the advice of the Administrative Committee, and was used for prayer at this NCCB meeting, it was rejected for liturgical use by the bishops after an absentee ballot failed to secure the necessary two-thirds majority required. 

The debate on the revisions will resume at the June 1994 meeting of the NCCB, where the bishops will review ICEL’s theories and principles used in re-translating and revising liturgical texts, including the doctrinal import of so-called "inclusive language". The June meeting will be closed to the press.  Such discussions will recur for several years, not only in the United States, but also in the eleven other English-speaking countries, as ICEL proceeds with its extensive revision of all liturgical texts. (ICEL’s annual budget is about $700,000.)

 [Women for Faith & Family’s] transcription of the NCCB’s debate on the liturgical texts has been prepared as a service to our bishops, and to those who wish to learn more about the challenges and problems with which our bishops are confronted in the matter of liturgical translations. As concern and confusion about new translations and revisions continues to intensify, readers will be encouraged by the often eloquent and edifying defenses of Catholic liturgical tradition recorded here. 

Minimal editorial notes (in brackets) provide clarification and identify the bishops, listing the principal Conference committees on which they serve, if any. These identifications were current in November, but do not reflect all changes since then (e-g. Bishop Wilton Gregory was succeeded as Chairman of the BCL by Bishop Donald Trautman, and Archbishop John Quinn was elected chairman of the Bishops’ Committee on Doctrine). Inaudible words are indicated by ellipses or brackets. Otherwise, the text is unedited, and appears just as spoken by the bishops. 

Monday morning, November 15,1993 

Revision of Sacramentary, Procedures for Approval 

Bishop Wilton Gregory [then Aux,. Chicago; Chairman, Bishops’ Committee on Liturgy, member Administrative Committee; now bishop of Belleville, IL]: Archbishop Keeler, my brother bishops, the Liturgy Committee wishes to present four Action Items for the approval of the membership of the NCCB. They deal with: 

One: Segment One, Ordinary Time of the Proposed Revision of the Sacramentary. 

Two: The Procedure for Approving the Revised Roman Missal at Future Meetings. 

Three: The Grail Psalter, Inclusive Language Version, and 

Four: the Spanish Translation of the Order of Christian Funerals.

Action Item #1 is concerned with the first segment of text of the Sacramentary. We will, however, treat it after the procedures which is listed as Action Item #2. But before I begin my summary of that Action Item, namely Action Item #I, I wish to deal with some questions and misunderstandings about the preparation and translation of liturgical texts. 

First of all, I would like to point out that all liturgical texts in English must be approved by the conference of bishops and confirmed by Rome before they can be used in the celebration of the liturgy. 

For the most part, liturgical texts in English are prepared by the International Committee [sic] on English in the Liturgy, which is commonly referred to as ICEL, for the English-speaking conferences of bishops. ICEL is an international body established at the request of the Apostolic See by the English-speaking conferences of bishops. It is governed by a board of bishops composed of one bishop from each of the eleven member conferences of bishops.  

ICEL has the responsibility of translating the official Latin text of the reformed liturgical books into English and it also prepares additional liturgical texts that its member conferences might desire. ICEL usually prepares an interim or provisional translation for comment by the episcopal conferences and the conferences may request Rome for the approval and subsequent use of these provisional texts. 

Usually after several years a final translation is prepared based on the comments that have been received on the provisional translation. Each conference of bishops is free to approve or reject any ICEL translation, but before any English text can be used in the liturgy, it must first be confirmed by the Apostolic See. 

But all ICEL translations presently in use have been authorized by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of Sacraments in Rome after they were approved by our own episcopal conference. 

A few liturgical texts have not been prepared by ICEL but by the English Language Liturgical Consultation, an ecumenical body representing the Catholic Church and the various English-speaking Christian churches throughout the world. The Apostolic See had encouraged such cooperative ecumenical effort, as is noted in the recently published ecumenical directory from Rome. These texts are the ecumenical versions of the Gloria, Creed, Sanctus and Lord’s Prayer. 

Each conference of bishops is free to use these texts or not. In the United States we have used these ecumenical texts, with the exception of the Lord’s Prayer, since the late 1960’s. In recent years some suggested revisions have been made in these prayers and the bishops will consider whether to adopt the revised version of these ecumenical texts for use in the new translation of the Sacramentary in November of next year. 

In addition to the Sacramentary a second book is needed for the celebration of Mass, the Lectionary for Mass which contains the scripture readings. The revision of the American edition of the Lectionary for Mass has not been an ICEL project, but rather has been a project of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops themselves. Our second edition of the Lectionary is based on the Latin second edition and uses the Revised New Testament and Psalms of the New American Bible. 

The Lectionary has already been approved by the NCCB and now awaits the confirmation of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. A second version of the Lectionary for Mass will also be published. It will use the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, the Catholic edition, which has been approved for liturgical use by our conference and confirmed by the Congregation for Divine Worship. 

In addition, the NCCB has approved a special Lectionary for Masses with Children which has been authorized for use by the Apostolic See. This special Lectionary for Masses with Children is the only one such approved for use in the United States.

[Note: All these revised texts are "inclusive language" translations. -ed.]

 I would also like to note that bishops, of course, are sensitive to the legitimate expressions of concern by the faithful in matters liturgical. However, we must evaluate these concerns in the light of the Church’s official teaching and our requirements of the liturgy as reformed by the Second Vatican Council and mandated by Pope Paul VI and Pope John Paul II. 

In our Action Item #1 today, the members of the NCCB are asked to approve the first portion of the revised English text of the Roman Missal-or Sacramentary, as it is called in the United States and Canada. Rome has already issued two editions of the Latin Missal and intends to prepare a third Latin edition sometime in future. 

We have used our English texts for over twenty years and, like other language groups, for example the French, German and Italian speaking conferences of bishops, whose revised Sacramentaries have already been approved and issued or are under preparation, we are now revising our translation of the Mass prayers in the light of our experience of celebrating the liturgy in English. These new translations are both faithful to the meaning of the Latin and reflect a higher and more worthy English style.

Since 1978, all ICEL translations have used gender-inclusive language in reference to persons. Every liturgical book approved by the NCCB and confirmed by the Apostolic See has employed gender-inclusive language since that time: The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, the Dedication of a Church, Pastoral Care of the Sick, the Order of Christian Funerals, and the collection of Masses of the Blessed Virgin Mary. 

Our own conference of bishops has used inclusive language regarding persons in its official documents for many years.

Three years ago the NCCB approved guidelines [Criteria] for the Evaluation of Inclusive Language Translation of Scriptural Texts [Proposed] for Liturgical Use. These guidelines were prepared to insure that all scriptural translation destined for liturgical use are doctrinally sound. It should be noted that language regarding God has not been changed in the Sacramentary text or in the Lectionaries for Mass. 

This rather long preface to our Action Items is to remind all of the lengthy process leading to the revised translation and this process has already involved the bishops through preliminary consultation and study books. The proposed ICEL revision of the Missal is not a new liturgy. Rather, it is a new and improved translation of the one that we already have, supplemented at times by alternate texts; for example, the new optional opening prayers that correspond to the three year cycle of the Lectionary. 

Action #1: The first Action Item of the Liturgy Committee is on pages 1 through 6 of your yellow Supplementary Document #1, Action #l. 

You will also need to refer to the green book entitled The Proposed Revision of the Sacramentary, Segment One, Ordinary Time, which was sent to each bishop in September. It contains the actual text of the proposed ICEL liturgical texts along with the Latin text of the same prayer. For this action, we have been following an interim procedure for approving the Revised Roman Missal which was authorized by the Administrative Committee in September of this year. 

This procedure was formulated in order to respond to the concerns raised by His Eminence, Cardinal Mahony and others, to allow the bishops to receive the ICEL texts in segments and vote on them over a longer period of time. ICEL has been very cooperative in responding to our request and I wish to thank both Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk, as Chairman of the ICEL Episcopal Board, and Dr. John Page, the Executive Secretary of ICEL, for their cooperation and assistance. 

In accordance with the instructions, Comme le prévoit [Note: 1969 document, also known as Instructions on the Translation of Liturgical Texts, which says translations need not "slavishly" adhere to the literal text. – ed.], each text may only be approved or not approved by the conference of bishops. Those texts not receiving two-thirds canonical approval will be returned to ICEL with a request for changes in the text or the substitution of other texts. ICEL will consult with the other episcopal conferences, and either modify the individual text, substitute another text, or reject the request of the NCCB. 

If the other conferences do not wish to join the NCCB in approving a modified text, the liturgy committee may again request the NCCB to approve the original text. If the original text again fails to receive the canonical 213 approval, or if the Liturgy Committee does not wish to resubmit the text to the NCCB, the Liturgy Committee will present its own text to the NCCB for approval. 

The Committee has reviewed all the comments received as of last night from individual bishops who have registered an objection to a particular text and have submitted motions requesting further consideration. It will review any further motions that must be submitted no later than noon today.  

Bishops who submit motions for further consideration by ICEL that are not accepted by the Liturgy Committee may ask that these motions be considered individually by the members of the NCCB. Approval of a text requires the canonical 213 affirmative votes of all the Latin rite de jure bishop members of the NCCB. A motion requesting further consideration requires only a simple majority of the Latin rite de jure members of the NCCB. The approved text will require the subsequent confirmation by the Apostolic See. 

The members of the NCCB are now asked to approve the following motion: Do the members of the NCCB approve segment #1 Ordinary Time of the Roman Missal as requested by the NCCB Committee on the Liturgy? 

Archbishop Keeler, I would be happy to entertain any questions for clarification on this motion. 

Archbishop Keeler: [Baltimore; President, NCCB.] Questions for clarification now. Bishop Bosco. 

Bishop Anthony Bosco [Greensburg; member, Committees on Women in Society and in the Church, Pastoral Practices and Administrative Committee; recently appointed a member of the BCL]: Bishop Gregory, each year I look forward to seeing which of our agenda items is going to generate the most mail and thus enrich the U.S. Postal Service. The winner by far this year was inclusive language, obviously generated, since most of the letters said the same thing, but included also- and I’m sure I’m not the only bishop that received this – was a critique of the English translation of Comme le prévoit. That about exhausts my French right there. [laughter] And since I don’t know what the provenance of that was there is some question as to whether there was some malice in it, some manipulation, that it was a poor translation of the French and consequently misled those of us who are not fluent in French. 

Would you have anything to say about the origin of our English translation and whether it deserves the disdain that it has provoked? 

Bishop Gregory: Bishop Bosco, I am aware of the questions regarding the translation. May it suffice to say that the translation was ‘indeed prepared by ICEL but it was submitted as a draft translation to the Concilium which did not accept uncritically the draft that it received and made corrections in that draft and issued it in its own name. 

But the concern that some have regarding the translation might properly be addressed to the Concilium rather than to ICEL since the Concilium made adjustments – perhaps some would consider not enough adjustments – but the Concilium did issue the text as we have it in English as a legitimate translation.  

Much beyond that, Bishop, I cannot say, but I think part of the difficulty was that some people were saying that the Concilium really had nothing to do with this translation, that it simply received it and in an uncritical manner issued it, and there are documents which would argue against that. Whether they would convince those parties who have trouble with the translation, of its accuracy or validity, it is de facto a document from the Holy See. 

[Note: Concilium was an agency created to implement the Vatican II constitution on the liturgy, Sacrosanctum concilium, and was eventually absorbed into the Congregation for Divine Worship and Sacraments. Members of ICEL who were also Concilium members provided the English translation of Comme le prévoit. ed.

Archbishop Keeler: Thank you. Before I recognize the next speaker, I’ve received a bulletin amending the amended deadline for amendments. It will now be not twelve noon but 12:30 [laughter] for those who are rushing in with amendments to liturgical documents. Bishop Weigand, a question for clarification. 

Bishop William Weigand [Salt Lake City, member Adm. Committee. Now Bishop of Sacramento.]: Bishop Gregory, I don’t relish the prospect of comment and debate on every one of these prayers when we later get to that point, but could you help those of us who are not at all experts on translation to understand the philosophy behind it? Are these generally literal translations or a more fluid kind of translation and, depending on that – at least if you think there’s going to be outlandish discussion later – wouldn’t it be better to get a sense of the body about those two ways of translating? 

Bishop Gregory: Bishop Weigand, I would like to separate in the first segment two types of prayers. 

The first type are the prayers that are translated from the Latin. The guiding principles that ICEL has followed are those that are enunciated in your green book and are in conformity with Comme le prévoit and other documents from the Holy See regarding the translation of Latin. I guess the operative word is "literal," since a number of bishops and individuals believe that literal means an absolute word-by-word even word order conformity with the Latin. 

The principles that Comme le prévoit outlined is that that type of literal translation is not required, that what is more important is that the truth of the prayer in Latin be rendered in a suitable, knowable way in the modem language.  

It also means that in those translations from the Latin it might be possible to amplify and enrich them, so for those who are looking for an absolute literal translation, the difficulty, perhaps, is not so much with this text as with some of the guiding principles in Comme le prévoit. 

The second type of prayers are the newly composed prayers that are original English composition and those prayers are written to reflect- or at least allude to – the scripture readings of the Sundays on which they are assigned and thus they sometimes make reference to the Gospel or one of the readings in an oblique fashion. They are new compositions; they are not translations from Latin. So you really have to look at it from those two different vantage points. 

Archbishop Keeler: Thank you. Cardinal Mahony and then Archbishop Levada with questions for clarification. 

Cardinal Roger Mahony [Los Angeles, Executive and Administrative Committee member, Chmn. Pro-life Committee; appointed a member of BCL, 1994.1: Bishop Gregory, there is a bit of an unsettling rumor moving around the halls in these days about this and I think it is very important to have some clarification. It has to do, I believe, with your meeting yesterday in the Bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy in which the amendments and the suggestions of the bishops were to be reviewed. 

The rumor has it that in fact Archbishop Pilarczyk and members of ICEL- two or three were there – and, in fact, had a primary role in reviewing the bishops’ comments, which it would seem to me would be more appropriately done by our committee. Now ICEL has submitted the material to us and we submit our comments to our own committee and it seems to me that that is the appropriate way to go. I hope the rumor is not true. 

Bishop Gregory: Well, Your Eminence, it is true that ICEL, representatives of ICEL, were present and it is true that our BCL staff people in receiving the recommendations asked for assistance in either a question of why was this translated this way or why was this word not translated or why was this word used over this word, what rationale can you provide? 

It is not true that the members of ICEL voted or in any way directed how the BCL would either accept, reject, modify or explain its actions in reference to a bishop’s opinion. They were there as periti [experts] since the work that was being criticized had come from them and some of the questions that had come from the bishops really asked ICEL why it was done this way rather than another way. So the presence of the ICEL representation is the truth, but that they were somehow making judgments on the bishops’ observations or determining which bishops’ observations would be accepted, which would be rejected is completely false. 

[Note: Rev. Ronald Krisman, executive director of BCL 1991-93, is a member of ICEL’s Administrative Committee; Rev. Alan Detscher, assoc. dir. of BCL, is on ICEL’s Subcommittee on Presentation of Texts. Msgr. Frederick McManus, former exec. dir. and current consultant to BCL, is a founding member of both ICEL and Concilium, the commission which issued Comme le prévoit, the letter advocating openness and freedom in translation published in 1969 in Notitiae, the official newsletter of the Congregation for Divine Worship. According to the BCL Newsletter, February 1994, two newly appointed advisors to the BCL are ICEL members, Sr. Kathleen Hughes, RSCJ and Rev. Jeremy Driscoll, OSB.-ed.] 

Archbishop Keeler: Archbishop Levada to be followed by Cardinal O’Connor. 

Archbishop William Levada [Portland, Oregon, Doctrine Committee member]: Thank you, Archbishop. My question is perhaps an appropriate follow-up to Cardinal Mahony’s question. 

Bishop, I understand the magnitude of the task before your committee and I would like to ask at this time if my understanding of this opportunity that has been provided the conference, I think as a result of the motion that Cardinal Mahony made a year or so ago and that we voted last June, is a correct understanding. It is my understanding that through that motion the Conference sought to involve, to give us an opportunity to participate at an earlier stage in a helpful way in the work that ICEL produces, ultimately for our vote up or down in the revision of the new Sacramentary. 

I don’t – and I can understand why – I don’t see on our table as I have for the other Action Items presented this morning, a list of the committee’s acceptance or rejection of items which have already been submitted by the bishops. But if I understand the process, at least from my perspective, it seems to me that what we are asked to present at this point, and what we will be asked to judge and vote on during our session here, would be material that we would ask to be given to ICEL for further consideration.

Therefore, it seems to me that what I would hope from our Conference’s committee would be a process which would facilitate the transmission of those thoughtful recommendations to ICEL for their further consideration – and not a process that would want to exclude them or hasten, at this point, the ICEL process by seeking to reject a number of these suggestions. 

I certainly grant the committee’s right to take anything that is spurious or ugly or contentious or whatever else and say, well, we recommend against it. But what I’m suggesting is that my understanding of this process is that our committee would want to assist and facilitate the involvement of the bishops in presenting material which they would like ICEL to give further consideration to as an additional aid to come up with a more refined and a better translation. Am I more or less on track with my sense? 

Bishop Gregory: Well, I do know that relative to what we receive this afternoon, before 12:30, that you will receive a document which represents all of the bishops’ observations and corrections and points of clarification. 

They will be divided into two packets: one, those that we s received that we did not feel that the committee wished to remand to ICEL; and those that we received that we believed that the committee had recommended should be remanded to ICEL. According to the procedures, we must vote on each one of those that we send for remanding, and it is the right of any bishop member to pull any of those that we had not suggested to be remanded for individual vote, so that will be provided you. … I believe that the more practical reason that you don’t have it now is that the document already is at 120 pages and it would mean duplicating such a document for a full body of bishops of 300, but you will get it. What we didn’t want to do is reduplicate it now and then an additional one, so we want a full packet. 

Archbishop Levada: I understand that. Perhaps I did not make my point as directly as I might want to, and you illustrate that by the 120 pages you mentioned which may even expand.

It would be my hope that the committee would accept the recommendations of bishops to ask for further consideration by ICEL of their amendments regarding these prayers, unless it is clear that those recommendations are contrary to some established principle or contrary to good translation. 

In other words, I would hope that we would see a large bloc of those suggestions being accepted favorably by the committee and that the committee would help our discussion later by isolating those which really have some difficulty with them. Thank you. 

Archbishop Keeler: Cardinal O’Connor, a question for clarification to be followed by Archbishop Schulte. 

Cardinal John O’Connor [New York, Pro-life Committee member]: Bishop Gregory, I thought your explanation was very clear; I appreciated it very much.  

It seemed to me, however, that both your explanation and the intervention by Bishop Bosco seemed to articulate the issues primarily in terms of "inclusive" or "exclusive" language, so that an impression could be created that if one voted against this version, it would be because of dissatisfaction one way or the other relative to language. 

The majority of the proposals that I offered addressed doctrinal issues, correctly or incorrectly, but I would think that I would not want personally for the vote to be taken within that climate or context, that this is a vote on "inclusive" or "exclusive" language. That’s a no-win vote. 

Bishop Gregory: Your Eminence, if I can respond briefly to your point. Of the 400 and approximately 40 recommendations, suggestions that we received, not one dealt with the question regarding "inclusive" language. 

They all were questions regarding the literalness of the translation from the Latin – for those texts that were translations -or a particular point of theological clarification or concern. That’s why in my opening comments I highlighted that vis a vis the question of "inclusive" language, all of the texts that we have already approved and been confirmed by the Holy See were produced by ICEL using the same principles that it is currently operating under now in reference to "gender-inclusive" language. That has not been a point of concern in the texts that we have been reviewing. 

Archbishop Keeler: Archbishop Schulte, to be followed by Bishop Chaput. 

Archbishop Francis Schulte [New Orleans, Liturgy Committee member; replaced in 19941: Bishop Gregory, because of the doctrinal implications that you just referred to, and that Cardinal O’Connor referred to, there had been some suggestion – I don’t know if that is the word – that perhaps a joint review of the material by the Committee on Doctrine as well as the Committee on Liturgy would be helpful. You and I had a private conversation about that, because I did bring that concern to you and I think it might be helpful for the body to know that indeed the Administrative Board considered doing that and decided against it? 

Bishop Gregory: Let me share a conversation I had not only with you, Archbishop, but with several other bishops. When I met with the Administrative Committee on Saturday, I had two questions – I may have had more – but two specific questions in reference to this project, that I wanted the wisdom of the Administrative Board. 

One: In September I wrote to Bishop Al Hughes, the Chairman on the Committee on Doctrine, and asked him to share in whatever way the Doctrine Committee felt appropriate in the review of this text. I did not feel that it was my prerogative to tell the Doctrine Committee how their participation should be detailed. Bishop Hughes and I had several conversations and the final conclusion thereof was the Doctrine Committee to date has not had a chance to review this material as committee, obviously, as members of the NCCB each of them have all of the information as voting members.

I was concerned about that. And I must say, I am still concerned about that. I brought that to the Administrative Committee along with another concern which is the fact that as of Wednesday, last week, the BCL had received responses from approximately only 16 bishops. Obviously, between Wednesday and this moment we have received others. 

But I wasn’t certain how to interpret the lack of response on the part of the membership, especially in light of the fact that the documentation had been sent out two months prior, in conformity with the desire for us to have more time to review them . . . . 

I brought those two issues to the Administrative Committee and asked for their wisdom. They responded by saying that they felt that these were not reasons to delay having a vote and a discussion on this first fascicle of the Sacramentary. I say that in all candor to the full body, because it has been the topic of conversation with myself and other members of the membership as individuals. 

Archbishop Keeler: Bishop Chaput, who will be the last … oh, Bishop Hughes also. Bishop Chaput? 

Bishop Charles Chaput [Rapid City, member Committees on Permanent Diaconate, Evangelization, Native American Catholics]: Thank you very much. Bishop Gregory, you and the Committee have an impossible task and we’re very grateful for your effort.  You said some while ago when you were talking about the principles of translations that translations should be noble and beautiful as well as literal. 

It seems to me that many of the problems that some of us have with the text would have been solved if it had been much more literal – and I don’t think those terms are exclusive. It can be literal in terms of the content and beautiful in expression. It seemed to me that there was a looseness in the translation many times and it was not easy for someone to understand who is not an expert, perhaps. 

And I think those of us who have objections – serious objections – are trying to signal ICEL and the Committee that it would be a good thing that these translations could at least have all the contents of the prayer- maybe expressed in another way. So I [understand] your observations about the fact that so few of us responded … I think part of that is because of the ad limina visits this fall, for some of us, that took us away; but also you have it difficult, as we do, too, at home. We don’t have the kind of staff to help us with those kinds of difficult things. We rely on the expertise of ICEL and the expertise of your committee. 

Where my deepest concern is, is the fact that so many of the prayers seem that they could have been more embracive of the faith of our Church if they had been more literal — not in a "slavish" sense — but in the content of the prayers. 

And I’d like to ask, is that a principle of ICEL that when they translate they’ll try to be as literal as possible while maintaining beauty and flow and all those important things? 

Bishop Gregory: The principles that ICEL follows are in the green book next to the Supplementary Documents, as well as the document Comme le prévoit. And I think you put your finger on the real neuralgic point that we face. That is, where does the "literal" and the "enriched" version intersect? And when I say "enriched" I mean, not a departure, but not that type of forced following of word order, the exact number of words, etc., etc. That’s a point that we’ll have to face together. 

Bishop Chaput: My concern was the impoverishment of the text, rather than its "enrichment" – because of the lack of a literal translation. 

Archbishop Keeler: Bishop Hughes – Al Hughes. 

Bishop Alfred Hughes [Baton Rouge, Chmn., Committee on Doctrine, succeeded by Archbishop John Quinn, San Francisco]: Bishop Gregory, thank you very much for what you and the Liturgy Committee have been doing in attempting to facilitate this conference. As far as I know it is an extraordinarily challenging task. 

You rightly say that in our discussion in attempting to work out the best way for the Committee on Doctrine to work with the Committee on Liturgy, we have had a time-table conflict. We are appreciative of being invited into the process. We want to be participants. It was not possible for us between September and November to include it on the agenda of the one meeting that we had because the agenda was so full. 

In addressing something like this kind of review collectively as a committee, it takes, of course, considerable time, as you experienced with the Committee on Liturgy as well. It’s for that reason that we have some difficulty in attempting to move ahead with the discussion and vote on this series of collects and prayers at this particular juncture. 

Understandably, the Administrative Committee wished to go ahead, because this body has requested ICEL to submit these texts piecemeal so that we could have a chance to review them. But I would like to indicate the continuing willingness and desire of the Committee on Doctrine to find a way and a time-table that would make possible either participation on the part of the whole committee or the formation of some kind of joint effort that would make possible a timely review of the text. 

Archbishop Keeler: Bishop San Pedro, to be followed by Archbishop Pilarczyk. 

Bishop Enrique San Pedro, SJ [Brownsville, TX: Chmn, Hispanic Affairs; member Priestly Formation, Review of Scripture Translations; BCL consultant, replaced 19941: Bishop Gregory, my question is concerned more with the alternative prayers that are composed by ICEL. I would like to know if my perception is correct that the original Latin prayers try to focus on specific aspects for every Sunday. I mean that the prayers are also an element of teaching that the liturgy uses for the faithful and if there is anything in this regard in the different prayers that have been made by the ICEL? I mean do they have anything in mind, any particular aspect of the doctrine, anything which is connected more or less with the main theme of the Mass of the particular Sunday? 

That is a question, and it is difficult – at least for me – to come to an opinion, if I don’t know whether they are just randomly made or they have some idea behind what they want to convey. 

Bishop Gregory: Bishop San Pedro, the question that you raise is the type of question that doctoral dissertations come from, that is, how and where does the Holy See select the prayers that it chose – the Latin originals – and what was the thematic or dogmatic or doctrinal statement that the Holy See wished to make in each prayer, in the sequence of those prayers, and in choosing this edition over another. I am not certain of that. 

That is the work that came from the Congregation [for Divine Worship], from the Concilium in putting together the Missale Romanum, the original ‘typical’ edition. 

They chose prayers from a wide variety of sources, from some of the ancient Sacramentaries, some of the medieval Sacramentaries, from prayers that belong to liturgical books that were more circumscribed in their use, and it was the Holy See collection, and to my knowledge no one has come up with a definitive outline of how the theological, if in fact there is a theological development of those Sunday prayers. Certainly they are not related to the readings directly. They may, on occasion, but I believe that’s more by chance than by design. 

Bishop San Pedro: My question is this. Is there anything that we know about the composition of the ICEL prayers, does it have anything to adjust … 

Bishop Gregory: Of the new composed prayers? 

Bishop San Pedro: Yes. Was there anything that they had in their minds … It is difficult for me, for instance, in the second Sunday we have three optional prayers which address very different- 

Bishop Gregory: Well, Prayer One addresses the scriptural theme from Year 1, the year of Matthew’s Gospel. Prayer Two addresses the theme that would be found in the Liturgy of the Word in Luke’s Gospel year, Year B. Year C would reflect a scriptural text. It doesn’t necessarily come from the Gospel, but it is related to the Word of God that will be proclaimed in the Liturgy of the Word on that particular…. 

Bishop San Pedro: Is that the case? [Bp. Gregory responds: That is the case.] Not only this Sunday but in every other prayer that they composed? 

Bishop Gregory: No. This is only the guiding principle for this first set of prayers that we are considering, the Sunday prayers. 

Bishop San Pedro: OK. Thank you. 

Archbishop Keeler: Now, Archbishop Pilarczyk, to be followed by Bishop Connolly. It appears there is a great thirst for clarification in the body this morning. 

Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk {Cincinnati; Chmn., Episcopal Board of ICEL; BCL consultant, Adm. Committee member]: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, I wish to offer two items for clarification: 

First of all, it is my understanding that what we are empowered and asked to do by the Administrative Committee at this meeting dictates what is to be the final vote on this first batch of materials from ICEL, namely the Prayers for Ordinary Time. The plan is then, that was the intent of Cardinal Mahony’s motion [at the Fall,1993 NCCB meeting]; namely, that materials come to us in smaller batches so that we can deal with them much more conveniently. This is not one more step in the composition of the prayers on the part of the International Commission on the English Liturgy.  

That step, namely, the participation of the bishops in the composition and revision of these prayers, is a step which I initiated when I sent out a letter some months ago inviting all those who had comments to submit them before I made my vote as our representative on the Episcopal Board of ICEL. As I have said on other occasions, the zeal to participate at that point in the process has not been much in evidence. 

Secondly, I wish to address the question of the participation of ICEL representatives, including myself, in the committee meeting of the Bishops’ Committee on Liturgy. In one way, the ICEL person – the staff persons of ICEL – are staff persons to the Conference, in that ICEL is a creature of our Conference, at least in part. The fact remains, obviously, that the ICEL staff must follow the directives of the Holy See in preparing these documents and in getting these documents voted on by the member conferences. ICEL staff members are not free to change the disposition of Comme le prévoit anymore than we are. 

It seems tome that the chairmen of our committees have the right to invite whatever periti they wish to invite. Obviously, the final vote is taken by committee members only. I use the analogy of a composition of a Pastoral Letter when those who were the de facto writers of the letter generally meet with the bishop members of the drafting committee. 

Moreover, it has been the custom that the ICEL representative of our conference serve as a consultant to the Bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy. That has been the case ever since the beginning of ICEL, as far as I understand it. If either of those two practices, namely, the practice of allowing committee chairmen to invite in whatever periti they wish and the practice of having our Conference representative on the International Commission on English Liturgy as a consultant to BCL – if either of those practices are thought to be inappropriate – it seems to me that we need a policy decision so that unfortunate misunderstandings can be avoided in the future. 

[Note: No mention is made of the staff members and consultants of the BCL who are also members of ICEL. -ed.]  

Archbishop Keeler: Thank you. Bishop Connolly and then Bishop Hanus who is the last one who has asked for a clarification this lap. 

Bishop Thomas Connolly [Baker, CA; member Committee on Selection of Bishops]: Bishop Gregory, you have spoken several times about the Editio Typica, and then you used the word "the original" and it provoked a question in my mind. Which is the Latin text that we have for consideration in front of us? 

Bishop Gregory: It is the second typical edition, the second Latin edition of the Missale Romanum. 

Bishop Connolly: Is that the final one? 

Bishop Gregory: Bishop Connolly, I have been told that the Holy See is considering a third, however, that could be a very long process. I have no way of knowing how far along that third edition is, nor what areas it will modify. But, that’s the common conversation. 

Bishop Connolly: Can you give us any enlightenment on the question of when they revised the original Editio Typica? Did they use the same kind of principles that we’re trying to apply now to arrive at this second version or are we dealing with something that as a matter of fact may not have been an improvement over the first one? 

Bishop Gregory: Well, that would be – that would ask me to make judgment on the Holy See, and I’m a bit reticent to do that. I wouldn’t want to criticize them, but only the text. [laughter] I believe that when the Holy See issued the second edition it included some additional plans, it also made some adjustments that had obviously been points … raised for clarification from local episcopal conferences. I’d be hard pressed at this point to point out exactly what those were. But the second typical edition came out, I believe, in ’77- ’77 or ’78 -but there is another one. When it will be issued I have no idea. 

Archbishop Keeler: Bishop Hanus, and then we will conclude the search for clarification at this time, to be continued this afternoon. 

Bishop Jerome Hanus [St. Cloud; BCL member]: My point of clarification deals with the Bishops’ Committee on Liturgy. Four years ago the election was between Bishop Gregory and myself. I’m very happy that you elected him [laughter] but I’ve been privileged to serve these three years with him on the committee and I think he’s done a marvelous job. 

In regard to the presence of the ICEL people: last night I said that I supported Bishop Gregory’s invitation of them. I think it was totally appropriate. Not all of us may agree with that, but I thought it was appropriate and certainly very helpful to the Liturgy Committee in working out our task as committee. I thought it was appropriate for you as chair and certainly in conformity with instructions of the Holy See which say that this the bishops’ committee, that bishops’ conferences are to employ any experts, any commission, any mixed commission, which they feel necessary to accomplish the task. So in that point of clarification, I certainly support him, and I think most of the Liturgy Committee supported him. 

Bishop Gregory: I also should clarify that there was another theological consultant who was present who was not a member of the ICEL staff, and that is Father Kevin Irwin, who is a priest of the Archdiocese of New York and the Center of Liturgy at Catholic University of America, and I invited him to sit in on the conversation also. 

[Note: Father Irwin has now been appointed advisor to BCL.-ed.] 

Archbishop Keeler: Thank you very much for your patience and for articulating responses to a number of concerns. We’ll invite you back this afternoon to continue this discussion of the presentation on the liturgy. 

Monday Afternoon, November 15,1993

Discussion of Grail Psalter, Inclusive Language Version  

Archbishop William Keeler: The presentation of liturgical action items, for questions of clarification. 

Bishop Wilton Gregory: Archbishop Keeler and my brother bishops, I can tell you the second action is found on pages 7 though 11 of your yellow supplementary document #1, Action 2. As I indicated earlier, we have used, and we will use, an interim procedure for the approval of the first segment of the Missal. However, for future segments we will need formally to approve a more permanent procedure. This permanent procedure is exactly the same as the interim procedure I explained in the context of the first Action Item, with one slight exception: In number six, on page 11, you will see that we are proposing that motions requesting further consideration must be submitted to the NCCB office of the General Secretary at least two weeks prior to the start of the plenary session at which the text in question will be considered for approval. 

This early submission of motions for further consideration is essential in order to give the Liturgy Committee sufficient time to study carefully the motions and prepare responses to that. The next segment of the Sacramentary is twice as long as the one we are considering at this plenary session, and we will also be considering the order of Mass at that time. Given the number of motions we have received for this first segment, it will not be humanly possible to deal with the motions without this extra time. The reason for considering the procedure for approving the text after-or at least the reason that we had thought – approving the text after dealing with the first segment of the Sacramentary, which is now reversed, was to give us the practical experience of using this procedure once in order to see if it is satisfactory. Approval of the procedure for approving the revised Roman Missal, the Sacramentary, requires a simple majority of the de jure Latin rite members of the NCCB. Archbishop Keeler, I will now be pleased to answer any questions of clarification on this s

Bishop Grosz, please. 

Bishop Edward M. Grosz [Aux.Buffalo. appointed member of BCL, 1994]: Bishop Gregory, a point of information. In redoing the time-tables presented in our documentation, it came to my mind that we’re talking also about changes in the introduction to the Sacramentary. Where will that fit into a time-table, or how does that come before the body? 

Bishop Gregory: That would be with the packet of information on the Ordinary of the Mass, and that’s when we would consider that. 

Bishop Grosz: Thank you. 

Archbishop Keeler: Now, you want to go on to the next item?

Bishop Gregory: The next action is the approval for liturgical use of the Grail Psalter, Inclusive Language Version. It is found on pages 12 through 173 of your yellow supplementary document, number 1, Action 3. 

You may recall that a revision of the Grail Psalter was first presented to the NCCB at the 1984 plenary meeting. The discussions at that time led to the eventual formation of the Joint Committee of the Liturgy and Doctrine Committees on Inclusive Language. 

As a result of that subcommittee’s work, the Criteria for the Evaluation of Inclusive Language Translation of Scriptural Texts Proposed for Liturgical Use was prepared and approved by the NCCB. The Criteria were then used as a basis for the revision of the Grail Psalter. The Ad Hoc Committee on the Imprimatur for Scripture Translations carefully examined the Grail Psalter and requested that a number of changes be made. The required corrections have been made in the text, and Archbishop Keeler has granted the imprimatur in the name of the NCCB. 

The Liturgy Committee now wishes to present the Grail Psalter to the bishops in order that it might be approved for liturgical use. The unrevised Grail Psalter was originally chosen for the Liturgy of the Hours as the version most suited to singing, and because of its acceptance by the various conferences of bishops in the English speaking world. The revised Grail Psalter maintains the pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables that enables it easily to be sung in several different ways. It is because of its sing ability and its appropriate use of gender-inclusive language for persons that the Liturgy Committee wishes to request approval for its liturgical use. 

Approval for the liturgical use of the revised Grail Psalter requires an affirmative 213 vote by the Latin rite de jure members of the NCCB and the subsequent approval of the Apostolic See. The members of the NCCB are now asked to approve the following motion: Do the members of the NCCB approve the request of the NCCB Committee on the Liturgy that the Grail Psalter inclusive language version be approved for liturgical use in the dioceses of the United States? 

Archbishop Keeler, I would be happy to answer any questions for clarification that the members of the NCCB might now have. 

Bishop Connolly: Bishop Gregory, could you help me with this particular problem: I was wondering what use does the committee at this point expect this translation to be put to? 

Bishop Gregory: If I had to respond, bishop, with the strongest reason, it’s that there is an entire corpus of music that has been composed for the Grail Psalter. This revised Grail Psalter with the appropriate adjustments, allows us to continue using that corpus of music. I do not envision that it will become the new psalter for the… 

Bishop Connolly: So by adopting this we’re not replacing the present breviary, etc? 

Bishop Gregory: No, oh no. 

Bishop Connolly: Then, I wanted to ask you, too, what kind of principles they used

The Editors