May 15, 2008

News & Views

Online Edition:

May 2008

Vol. XIV, No. 3

News & Views

Teach, Bishop, Teach! | Unholy Grail?

Teach, Bishop, Teach!

When a cardinal spoke publicly and boldly admonishing a Catholic politician who publicly and boldly supports abortion after the politician had publicly and boldly received Holy Communion at a Mass celebrated by the pope, it made headlines.

New York Cardinal Edward Egan did what he is, in fact, obliged to do. But his action was unusual, to say the least. He was direct, specific and forthright. He did not muffle his words in abstractions. Here is his statement, posted on the archdiocesan web site on April 28:

“The Catholic Church clearly teaches that abortion is a grave offense against the will of God. Throughout my years as Archbishop of New York, I have repeated this teaching in sermons, articles, addresses, and interviews without hesitation or compromise of any kind. Thus it was that I had an understanding with Mr. Rudolph Giuliani, when I became Archbishop of New York and he was serving as Mayor of New York, that he was not to receive the Eucharist because of his well-known support of abortion. I deeply regret that Mr. Giuliani received the Eucharist during the papal visit here in New York, and I will be seeking a meeting with him to insist that he abide by our understanding”.

A bishop is obliged to teach the faith, “in season and out of season”, as Saint Paul told Timothy. “Reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and kindness” (II Timothy 4:2). And this is what a shepherd must do to protect his flock from “ravening wolves” who deny or distort the Truth, and destroy people’s faith. We rely on this, and give thanks for bishops who teach truly and courageously.

We don’t often hear much about shepherds teaching other shepherds. But they do. As one example, here is an excerpt from St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke’s homily at the Mass of Installation for Bishop Vann Johnston, the new bishop of Springfield-Cape Girardeau, on March 31:

“May the cathedra or bishop’s seat, which gives the name to the chief and mother church of every diocese, symbolize for you and all of the faithful your fundamental responsibility to teach the faith and to safeguard the integrity of the faith and of its practice. As chief teacher of the faith, guide and direct all who are catechists, so that the greatest treasure which is ours may be handed on faithfully, in all its richness, to succeeding generations. Recall the wise counsel of Saint Paul to Timothy (II Tim. 4:1-5), and the admonition of Saint Gregory the Great, inspired by his reading of the prophet Isaiah and the Parable of the Good Shepherd:

The ruler should be discreet in keeping silence and profitable in speech, lest he utter what should be kept secret, or keep secret what should be uttered. For just as incautious speech leads men into error, so, too, unseasonable silence leaves in error those who might have been instructed. Often, indeed, incautious rulers, being afraid of losing human favor, fear to speak freely of what is right, and, in the words of the truth, do not exercise the zeal of shepherds caring for the flock, but serve the role of mercenaries; for when the wolf appears, they flee and hide themselves in silence. Wherefore, the Lord reproves them through the prophet, saying: They are all dumb dogs, not able to bark (Saint Gregory the Great, Pastoral Care, tr. Henry Davis, S.J., New York: Newman Press, 1950, 1978, Part II, Chapter 4, pp. 51-52).

“By your tireless care to be a loyal and selfless teacher of the faith, you will draw all to Him Whose glorious pierced Heart never ceases to pour out upon souls the truth and love of God the Father.”

Read Archbishop Burke’s complete homily on the archdiocesan web site: .


Unholy Grail?

Renewed interest among Church musicians in singing the psalms at Mass has led to questions about various translation of the psalms. And among those translations recently proposed for singing in the liturgy is the Grail Psalter – Inclusive Language Version, a 1993 revision of the original 1963 Grail Psalter, produced by the Grail Society in England.

Many Catholics recall that throughout the 1990s there was much controversy over liturgical translations — when both the Lectionary for Mass and the Missal (Sacramentary) were being revised and/or re-translated. The New American Bible (NAB), used in the US since 1970, had undergone revisions (New Testament 1986, Psalms 1991). The translators who revised the Psalms used feminist (“inclusive”) language, which altered the meaning of the text. Before the new Lectionary could be approved, it had to be amended by a committee composed of US bishops and Vatican consultants. Because their corrections were confined to the Lectionary, however, this means that there is now no complete version of the official liturgical Bible for the Catholic Church in the United States that matches what we hear at Mass. (Further Lectionary revisions are now in progress — but that’s another story. For background, see “Enigma Variations” AB Jul-Aug 1997 –

At the same time all this was going on, an even more radically gender-neutered version of the psalms was proposed to the US bishops for liturgical use in 1993: the Grail Psalter – Inclusive Language Version. (The original 1963 Grail Psalter had been used for decades in the Daily Office and especially for singing, in preference to the NAB Lectionary Psalms.)

But the 1993 Grail Psalter was an ideologically driven revision — even more extreme than the 1991 revised NAB Psalms that could not be used in the liturgy without extensive repair.

Nevertheless, the Grail Inclusive Language Version was presented to the US bishops to be approved expressly for liturgical use. It had already been given an imprimatur, an approval to print, by the president of the US bishops’ conference. But in order to be permitted for use in the Church’s liturgy, a text requires approval by a 2⁄3 majority of the bishops, and also by the Vatican.

At their November 1993 meeting the bishops discussed and voted on the Grail Psalter – Inclusive Language Version. They rejected it for liturgical use. Definitively. The plain meaning of this is that a version of Scripture that has been rejected for liturgical use may not be used for liturgy — whether spoken or sung.

(The “inclusive” Grail Psalter, published by GIA Publications, bears no imprimatur in the latest [2000] edition.)

The bishops’ deliberations on the 1993 version of the Grail Psalter were recorded and transcribed by Women for Faith & Family, and published in Voices in April 1994. Because the subject of using various translations of Scripture in the liturgy for singing has resurfaced recently, it may be useful to review the bishops’ discussion. The WFF transcript has now been published online.



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