Jun 15, 2001


Online Edition

– Vol. VII, No. 4: June 2001


ICEL Psalter’s "excellence" proved by Vatican censure, Scripture scholar saysNew GIRM is not "Roman retrenchment", says liturgistEuropean Feminists: Liturgiam Authenticam will drive women from the ChurchSixth Extraordinary ConsistoryMeetings – Conferences

ICEL Psalter’s "excellence" proved by Vatican censure, Scripture scholar says

Literalism in translation of Scripture is a means of "keeping the translator in control of the reader", according to

Father Gerard Sloyan

, in his article "Some Thoughts on Biblical Translation" in the May 2001 edition of



Although he notes that some Bible translations have been "tendentious", attempting to censor theological ideas the original text contains, Father Sloyan singles out for particular praise the 1995

ICEL Psalter

, which the Holy See has rejected precisely because it is theologically defective. Father Sloyan regards ICEL’s rendering of the Book of Psalms

as an example of sensitivity of translators to the "genius of the biblical tongue":

Overall, this translation is a remarkable achievement, its excellence confirmed by the censure of a curial dicastery which has suggested the withdrawal from use of copies already widely circulating. (p. 236)

Father Sloyan is referring here to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, who ordered the withdrawal of the US bishops’ imprimatur of the text. Because the defective Psalm translation continued to be used, the CDF asked the bishops to remove the ICEL Psalter from use.

Father Sloyan also mentions that he was the one who proposed the name "New American Bible" while the original 1970 translation was in production. He is emeritus professor at Temple University and teaches at Georgetown University and the Catholic University of America.

Worship is an influential liturgical monthly published by the Benedictine Order at Saint John’s Abbey, Collegeville, Minnesota.

Source: Worship, Vol 75, No 3, May 2001


New GIRM is not "Roman retrenchment", says liturgist

Benedictine Father Anthony Ruff of Saint John’s Abbey, Collegeville, dismisses the claims of those who call the revised Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani [GIRM] a "Roman retrenchment" and an attempt to return to pre-conciliar days.

Father Anthony’s article on the GIRM appeared in the most recent edition of Antiphon, published by the Society for Catholic Liturgy, of which he is a board member.

"The liturgy is experienced not as the invention of a small knowledge class, but as the product and possession of the whole Church through endless generations", he writes.

Addressing some liturgists’ concern that the new GIRM weakens the role of the laity, Father Anthony distinguishes between the "professional class of liturgists" and ordinary worshippers. As an example, he uses "the Great Purification Debate" (his words), and he observed that lay participation does not mean having laity perform functions traditionally reserved to clergy.

Apparently referring to substantial divisions within the Church over key doctrinal matters such as papal authority and ordination of women, Father Anthony observes that liturgists’ "objections of clericalism are driven less by a concern for the full liturgical participation of all the baptized than by the dynamics of a highly politicized atmosphere around decision-making processes and admission criteria for ordination in the in the Catholic Church".

Father Anthony calls "quiet and unobtrusive observance of the rubrics" a service that a priest should provide to the faithful, because "[t]he laity should not have to adjust to the idiosyncrasies of liturgical ministers every time they attend Mass".

He argues that although improvising rubrics may seem like a means of moving away from "pre-conciliar rubricism", doing so actually draws attention to the priest and ministers rather than allowing the entire "assembly" to pray together undisturbed.

Source: Antiphon, Vol V, No 3, 2000


European Feminists: Liturgiam Authenticam will drive women from the Church

A May 19 story in the "progressive" British Catholic journal, The Tablet, "Women call for inclusive language in the liturgy", reports that "feminist theologians in Germany and Austria have criticized Liturgiam Authenticam, the new Vatican instruction on liturgical translation, for clinging too closely to ‘male-oriented’ Latin texts", citing reporter Christa Pongratz-Lippitt.

The Tablet story said that Marie Therese Wacker, feminist theologian and Bible scholar at Münster University, told the German Catholic news service KNA, that Liturgiam Authenticam displayed "male self-deification".

"She noted that the instruction insisted that the feminine pronoun must be retained in referring to the Church. But while the Latin word for Church, ecclesia, was feminine, the Hebrew kahal was masculine. Likewise, the Latin spiritus was masculine, whereas the Hebrew ruach was sometimes masculine but more usually feminine. This showed that in the Bible feminine images were also used for God and masculine ones for the Church. ‘Grammatical flexibility’ of this kind was used to prevent rigid images being formed, she emphasized.

"As God was neither male nor female, a balance between male and female images in liturgical texts was essential so that women would not feel excluded, according to Maria Moser, spokeswoman of the Austrian Forum of Feminist Theologians. Feminist theologians did not want to ‘make a woman of God’, she stressed, but `if God is male, then maleness becomes divine’.

"Moser also complained about Liturgiam Authenticams warning that inclusive language was ‘neither wise nor necessary’. From the pastoral point of view, inclusive language was ‘both wise and necessary’, and if liturgical language was too strictly regimented, then the exodus of young women from the Church would accelerate, she said".

The Tablet also noted that the Instruction "has already drawn criticism from English-speaking translators who argue that its provisions are rigid and high-handed (The Tablet, 12 May)".

The Tablet, May 19, 2001


Sixth Extraordinary Consistory

As we go to press, the extraordinary Consistory of Cardinals is meeting at the Vatican.

Pope John Paul II’s opening remarks on May 21 noted that the consistory is "spiritually connected to the Jubilee".

"It is a question of laying out the Church’s chief missionary priorities and studying the most suitable methods and means of achieving them", he said. "We must pay great attention to the superlative formation and intelligent assignment of our priests and lay collaborators because the field of apostolic action before us is vast and complex".

The cardinals presented specific proposals for fulfilling the Church’s mission at the beginning of the new millennium.

Vatican web site: www.vatican.va


Meetings – Conferences

The Confraternity of Catholic Clergy will hold its annual convocation and workshop August 27-30. The meeting will take place at Saint Bernard Abbey and Retreat Center in Cullman, Alabama, near Birmingham.

Speakers include Bishop Thomas Welsh, former bishop of Allentown, Father Charles Connor, history professor, and Helen Hull Hitchcock, editor of Adoremus Bulletin.

INFORMATION: call Confraternity at (888) 383-2691 or e-mail.

"The Restoration of the Sacred in Liturgy: Theory, Theology, and Practice" is the title of the Midwest Music Conference to be held August 19-22 at the Ancilla Domini Motherhouse in Donaldson, Indiana, near Notre Dame.

Workshop titles include "Reading Gregorian Notation", "Guidelines for Translating Liturgy", "Dumbing God Down: The Piano in the Sanctuary".

Presenters are Father Stephen Somerville, Toronto; organist Calvert Shenk; Father Vigny Bellervive, Paris; Father Eduard Perrone; and Mary Oberle Hubley, conference organizer.

Between workshops, Father Bellerive will offer a vocal recital, accompanied by Father Perrone.

E-mail Mary Oberle Hubley or call (219) 356-1398.



The Editors