Online Edition –
July – August 2007
Vol. XIII, No. 5
News and Views
Commenting on Pope Benedict XVI’s newly published book, released in English translation this spring, columnist George Weigel writes:
In Jesus of Nazareth, Ratzinger reveals the core of his personality as he invites his readers into the classroom of a master teacher — one who has absorbed the best that modern biblical scholarship has to offer and has yet emerged from that encounter with his faith intact and enriched. At the outset, Ratzinger asks us to join him and to “trust the Gospels”, to read them both critically and with love. Both attitudes are necessary, he suggests, if twenty-first century readers are to understand how each Gospel writer (and the Christian community from which and to which he wrote) explains the Church’s Easter faith: the conviction that “Jesus really did explode all existing categories and [can] only be understood in the light of the mystery of God”.
Weigel’s observations were the subject of a presentation on the book in Newsweek, May 21. Weigel says that the pope’s “[r]eading the New Testament through a lens ground by decades of study and reflection, shows us how texts that may have become dulled by familiarity can regain their edge”.
The book, translated into English by Adrian Walker and published by Doubleday, has been on the best-seller list for several weeks. (A brief excerpt from a chapter on the Lord’s Prayer appears inside, page 4.)
Bishop Donald Trautman of Erie, chairman of the US Bishop’s Committee on the Liturgy (BCL) since 2004, has published several essays and speeches critical of the proposed translations of Mass texts and of the Vatican, the most recent of which appeared in America magazine May 21.
Though he has repeatedly and sharply criticized the Vatican’s 2001 Instruction on liturgical translation, Liturgiam authenticam, since it first appeared, in this latest article, “How Accessible Are the New Mass Translations?”, Bishop Trautman not only criticized the translation and the Vatican, he called for a grass-roots revolt against the new Mass texts, by exhorting Catholics, “Church of God, judge for yourselves, Speak Up! Speak Up!”
Bishop Trautman posted the America article on his own diocesan web site, along with a list of Vatican and US Church officials to whom people might address their complaints.
This extraordinary action by the chairman of the BCL was reported in an article in the Dallas Morning News (June 2, 2007). Jesuit Father Tom Reese, a former editor of America (who also objects to the new translations, calling them “a slow-moving train wreck”), told the reporter that Bishop Trautman’s “targeting people in the pews” is “an escalation”. “That’s unusual”, Father Reese said.
The Dallas Morning News characterized Bishop Trautman’s article denouncing the Vatican and the translation by the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) as “fiery language”, and “a rare show of defiance”.
The bishop’s views also sparked responses in the reader comments on America magazine’s web site: from ICEL Secretary, Monsignor Bruce Harbert, who responded to some of Bishop Trautman’s objections; and from a brother bishop — Bishop Victor Galeone, of St. Augustine, who wrote,
Bishop Trautman is to be commended for his frank and courageous critique of the proposed ICEL Mass texts. He synthesized perfectly the problems with the new translations: slavish literalism, extended periodic sentences, and far too many archaic words.
Bishop Galeone wrote further,
I propose a pilot program for the translations approved thus far. Perhaps one diocese in each of the ICEL countries could be selected to test the proposed texts for a year. Mistakes similar to those of the interim 1964-70 translation might perhaps be corrected…
Monsignor M. Francis Mannion also responded supportively to Bishop Trautman’s article. In a letter-to-the-editor in the June 18-25 edition of America, he expressed concern that the new translation the bishop described could lead to a “breakdown in liturgical discipline and a pastoral disaster”.
“The key to genuine reception [of the texts] will be the consultation and pastoral testing within the wider Church for which Bishop Trautman wisely calls”, he wrote.
Monsignor Mannion is a former director of the Liturgical Institute (Mundelein) established by Cardinal Francis George in 2000, and in 1995 he founded the Society for Catholic Liturgy, serving both organizations until 2002, when he returned to Salt Lake City. His weekly “Pastoral Answers” column appears in Our Sunday Visitor.
By contrast, the chairman-elect of the BCL, Bishop Arthur Serratelli of Paterson, strongly supports Vatican translation norms, as evident in the article in this issue (page 7). Bishop Serratelli will succeed Bishop Trautman after the November 2007 bishops’ meeting.
(Thus far, only the ICEL texts for the Order of Mass have been approved by the ICEL bishops’ conferences.)
The many beatifications and canonizations in recent years have led to new norms for selection of saints to be included on the Church’s universal liturgical calendar. The new norms were approved by Pope Benedict XVI in December, and were published in mid-May, along with a commentary, in Notitiae, the official bulletin of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.
The General Roman Calendar, the universal schedule of holy days and feast days for the Latin rite of the Catholic Church, is so full that more selectivity is needed in making additions to it, the CDW report said. The pope determines which saints are included on the universal calendar, basing his decision on recommendations from the CDW, the commentary said.
The new norms say that a saint “can be inserted in the general calendar because of the significant and universal importance of his or her spiritual message and effectiveness as an example for a broad category of members of the Church”.
Saints from countries not already represented will receive special consideration, along with underrepresented categories, such as laity, married couples, and parents. Also, ten years should have passed since the canonization to assure widespread and continuing devotion.
The new procedures will involve bishops’ conferences, beginning with a two-thirds favorable vote from the country where the saint was born, lived or died; then the CDW will seek the opinion of at least three other bishops’ conferences on different continents before making its recommendation to the Holy Father.
Several musicians in the Philadelphia area are working to form a new schola that will travel from parish to parish in order to assist at Masses throughout the archdiocese and the surrounding area.
The foundation of the group’s repertoire will be Gregorian chant and Renaissance polyphony, as well as later music written in that tradition. Four initial rehearsals, open to everyone who is interested, will be held on August 22 and 29 and September 5 and 12 (all Wednesdays) at 7:30 p.m. The schola will meet at St. Katherine’s Church in Northeast Philadelphia. After these four open rehearsals, a core group of singers will be invited to continue on as the schola. For more information, please contact Michael Lawrence at firstname.lastname@example.org.