Vol. XIV, No. 5
USCCB June 2008 Meeting
Bishops Debate and Vote on Missal Texts
Second of Twelve Segments Presented at June Meeting: Vote Inconclusive
A second of the twelve segments of the proposed translation of the new Roman Missal, the Proper of Seasons, prayers for Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter and “ordinary time”, was the subject of considerable debate by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) at their Spring Meeting in Orlando, Florida in June. The vote at this meeting was inconclusive.
A vote of two-thirds of the 250 eligible Latin-rite bishops is required for approval. Absentee ballots were sent to more than 50 bishops after the meeting, to be sent to the Bishops’ Committee on Divine Worship (BCDW) by July 15. Results will be announced by the BCDW.
Four other bishops’ conferences — Australia, England and Wales, Scotland and Canada — had already approved the Proper of Seasons.
The first segment of the Missal, the Ordinary of Mass, was approved two years ago, and awaits Vatican approval (recognitio) before the new texts can be used. The US bishops’ vote then was 173 in favor — about 85% of those voting — with only 29 opposed. (See AB July-August 2006.)
The translation is the work of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL), the “mixed commission” that translates liturgical texts for eleven English-speaking countries. ICEL, originally organized in 1963 during the Second Vatican Council, was thoroughly re-organized and new statutes were approved in 2003. The revised edition of the Missal (the “third typical edition”) appeared in Latin in 2000, and new norms for translation of Scriptural and liturgical texts were produced by the Holy See to assure accuracy and fidelity to the original Latin texts. ICEL translators now follow these norms — in particular, Liturgiam authenticam, the fifth Instruction on the implementation of the Constitution on the Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, issued in 2001, and an explanatory document, the Ratio Translationis, produced by the Congregation for Divine Worship in 2007.
The reorganized ICEL is headed by Bishop Arthur Roche, of Leeds, England. Bishop Arthur Serratelli, chairman of the BCDW, is the US representative to ICEL. The Holy See is aided in reviewing the English-language liturgical translations by Vox Clara, an international group organized in 2002, consisting of twelve bishops from nine countries (four from the US) and a panel of five consultants.
Helen Hull Hitchcock and Susan Benofy attended the USCCB meeting in Orlando. The sessions on the Proper of Seasons were transcribed by Susan Benofy.
A word about the transcription: the words of the bishops are unedited for syntax or clarification. Incomplete sentences are indicated by a dash. The speaker’s own emphasis is indicated by italics. Explanatory comments by Adoremus are also in italics.
Thursday Morning, June 12
Preliminary Presentation of Action Item #1 – ICEL Translation of the Proper of Seasons, presented by Bishop Arthur J. Serratelli, of Paterson, Chairman of the Bishops’ Committee on Divine Worship (BCDW).
Cardinal Francis George (Chicago, President USCCB, former chairman BCDW): There are two items on the agenda you’ve accepted that can be amended, and so we want to have the preliminary presentation now of the documents, followed by questions of clarification. We do this at this time in order to assist you in formulating amendments you might want to make. They’re due today at 5:00 p.m., as usual. We’re not reviewing at this time actions which are items of business and therefore not subject to the amendment process.
Debate and vote on what we’re going to introduce now will take place tomorrow so that the amendments can be considered by the committees. Please raise a yellow card to ask a question of clarification.
The first of the two items to be presented in a preliminary fashion now is from the Committee on Divine Worship. It’s the ICEL translation of the Proper of the Seasons. It’s Action Item #1. Will Bishop Serratelli come forward to present — We’ll vote on this action tomorrow morning. It requires two-thirds of the Latin Church members with a subsequent recognitio by the Holy See. It’s part of the ongoing revision of the 3rd edition of the editio typica of the Roman Missal.
Bishop Arthur Serratelli: Thank you, Your Eminence. Bishops, you have before you Action Item #1, the Gray Book for the Proper of Seasons — although it has a yellow cover on it. This text is the second of twelve sections of the Missale Romanum, editio typica tertia presented for your consideration as part of the process of translation. This Gray yellow Book will require the approval of two-thirds of the Latin rite bishops of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops for passage. Then it will require a subsequent recognitio by the Congregation of Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. Some brief remarks that might help us understand the context of where we are with this Gray Book:
In March 2006 the USCCB reviewed the Green Book edition of the Proper of Seasons. ICEL presented this Green Book edition of the Proper of Seasons after its own extensive process of translation. As a result of the consultation on the Green Book of the Proper of Seasons, more than three hundred particular comments and observations, along with a summary of general observations and comments by the Committee on Liturgy were submitted by the bishops to ICEL. After its careful review of this material submitted by us, and material submitted by other Conferences of English-speaking countries, ICEL provided the Gray Book edition of the Proper of Seasons in June 2007. A study of that text reveals that ICEL incorporated many of the suggestions submitted by the bishops.
The text that we are examining is obviously lengthy. With the approval of the Administrative Committee, therefore, this text of the Action Item was distributed in electronic form only. This had been done previously when we handled the Lectionary for Masses with Children. Also the modification-amendment process has been conflated.
The text was e-mailed to the bishops immediately after the Administrative Committee meeting. The modifications that were then submitted have been reviewed by the Committee on Divine Worship. The modifications that were accepted (Group I), and those not accepted (Group II) appear before you at your places. Those that were accepted have been integrated into the English hard copy of the text before you. That document is Supplementary Document 1, Revision to Action Item 1; hence the yellow cover. This is the final text of the Proper of Seasons that is presented for your vote.
This conflated process which we have used of amendment-modification does allow for the possibility, if there is a grave matter that must be brought up. Therefore, if there is a very serious matter with the Proper of Seasons that has not been previously addressed in the modifications submitted by bishops, a bishop may at this time offer an amendment. But I’d like to emphasize: serious and grave.
It will be helpful to keep in mind this fact: that the document that we will vote on today must be submitted from us to the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. This text will not be returned to ICEL, but will be forwarded directly to the Congregation for recognitio. In light of this, the Committee accepted only a limited number of modifications that were deemed truly necessary. As you know, the Congregation is already being advised or assisted by Vox Clara. And many changes have been incorporated into the text of the Proper of Seasons. The Committee on Divine Worship feels that the Proper of Seasons Gray Book is ready to be presented to the Congregation.
Are there any questions of clarification?
Cardinal George: Thank you, Bishop Serratelli. Yellow cards for clarification. Bishop Baker.
Bishop Robert Baker (Birmingham): Bishop Serratelli, just a clarification on the Eucharistic Prayer I that is on page 138 and following. Is that not for vote in the sense that it’s still being reviewed by Vox Clara? Am I correct on that?
Bishop Serratelli: That’s correct. It’s only the prayers of the Proper of Seasons. Eucharistic Prayers I–IV are not for discussion with this book.
Cardinal George: Bishop Trautman, please.
Bishop Donald Trautman (Erie, former chairman BCDW): Thank you very much. I seek a clarification regarding the voting procedure. In accord with your recent comments, I noted in the March meeting of the Administrative Committee that the modifications will not go back to ICEL. They will go to the Holy See, who will examine them before granting the recognitio. But I do note in the ICEL statutes, Paragraph 36.12, the following:
The Conferences of Bishops, if they wish, may take their canonical vote on the Commission’s proposed definitive text.
And we have a definitive text.
If a Conference of Bishops still considers modifications to the text to be necessary, it is preferable that its proposal be referred back to Commission.
ICEL. That’s the opposite of what’s been reported here.
A given conference maintains the right to introduce any modifications desired, and to approve its own amended text, subject to the recognitio of the Holy See. The Conference also maintains the right to produce its own independent translation if necessary.
[The quotations are from the ICEL Statutes. – Ed.]
Bishop Serratelli: My understanding from my work on ICEL is that at this point ICEL does not look at it. So —
Bishop Trautman: Well, here are the statutes.
Bishop Serratelli: Right, I understand what you’re saying, but that’s my understanding of it.
Bishop Trautman: Well, I think we have a problem that needs to be resolved.
Cardinal George: Bishop Trautman, are you suggesting that we not only vote on the text, but also vote whether to remand it to ICEL or send it directly to the Holy See?
Bishop Trautman: If we follow the statutes we should send the modifications back to ICEL.
Cardinal George: Well, it says preferably, I think, if I heard you. We don’t have to do that.
And I’m not sure if its appropriate, but Bruce Harbert is here, from ICEL. Would it be appropriate to ask him to comment on that? Monsignor?
Monsignor Bruce Harbert (Director of ICEL Secretariat): As you have said, Your Eminence, that is in the statutes as a possibility. And what’s added to that possibility in the statutes is that if several conferences around the world want to make emendations, ICEL can then collate them with the intention of having a single text — or as single a text as possible — for the whole world. But it isn’t mandatory.
The truth of the matter is that at this stage in the process there’s a degree of dialogue between ICEL, the Congregation for Divine Worship, Vox Clara and the conferences. And anything to facilitate that dialogue would, from the commission’s point of view, be welcome, I think.
Cardinal George: This text that we’re voting on tomorrow has already been twice before ICEL. In other words, the initial corrections by every conference, including our own, in the English-speaking world have gone before you, and you’ve come back again. But we could remand it to you again. The conflation that you spoke about is designed precisely to move it along so that we can have a Missal within the famous eighteen months. It was eighteen months eighteen months ago, and we’re still going for eighteen months, I believe.
So I believe that we have foreshortened the procedure. However, if we don’t want to do that I think it remains our prerogative to say we’d like ICEL to have another look at it before we send it to the Holy See. But I think we should vote on that if that’s not the suggestion of the Committee. Is that satisfactory?
Are there other items of clarification?
Would it be appropriate to ask you, Bishop Arthur, to comment a little bit upon the work of preparation for the reception of this text? I know that that’s been a subject of concern of many. And would you care to say a little bit about the preparations, the catechesis and the pastoral necessities that have to be addressed before this text will be received?
Bishop Serratelli: Gladly. There’s a concern or an interest that has surfaced for the Committee on Divine Worship that I feel many of us as bishops share. And that’s, when this new text is proposed for use, that prior to it there be a proper catechesis not just for the laity, but for our priests. Certainly the style of prayer is a little different than what we’ve been used to. Familiarity with the text that we have is one thing; we need to become more familiar now with the new text. So many of us feel that there should be some kind of process, maybe even involving a number of the committees of the conference, so that we can adequately prepare materials that can be used in various dioceses, so that the priest as well as the laity will have a deeper understanding of the texts and the way to properly use them in liturgy. A suggestion was made in the committee that as a conference that we pull some of our resources together so that we can produce these catechetical resources that would aid all of us.
Cardinal George: Is there any comment on that? Archbishop Pilarczyk? Yes.
Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk (Cincinnati; former US representative to ICEL): Just a suggestion. I’m hoping that these materials for catechesis will be presented when the whole text has been approved, so that we don’t find ourselves catechizing about half of the Missale Romanum. I also believe, if I remember correctly, that we’re looking at November of 2010 as the target date for final approval of the final final text by this body, which will then require recognitio by somebody — ICEL or the Congregation or — whenever we get that squared away. So that it seems to me that these catechetical aids for the new Missale Romanum probably will be coming out sometime in 2011 or so. Is that — Or is it not appropriate to put a target at this time?
Bishop Serratelli: Well, at this point the idea of providing these catechetical aids has surfaced. We don’t have a committee put together on it, we don’t have a task force, nor do we have a timeline.
Archbishop Pilarczyk: So that its issuance is not imminent.
Bishop Serratelli: Absolutely! [Laughter]
Cardinal George: All right. I thought it was a little farther along. Okay, are there other points of discussion? This, of course, will come back for the voting on the amendments that you have to have in by 5:00 p.m. this evening, and for the whole text. Bishop Cupich?
Bishop Blase Cupich (Rapid City): Thank you, Bishop Serratelli, and to your committee. I believe that what you have said here in terms of the preparation is very appropriate. And I think just to put a fine point on it: it’s important to pay attention to the historical context that we’re in, and to realize that we’re at a new moment with the new version of the Roman Missal. And to see this as, maybe, an opportunity to look at how we have come so far with all of the growth in liturgy and to see this as a new opportunity to marshal all the resolve and the resources that we have, to do it right this time. Things after the Council were rushed. We have a moment with greater reflection, to pause and to make sure that we energize the whole Church to see this as a new opportunity to renew the liturgy and the Church. So I commend your committee for looking at this task force as a means to bring all the resources of the Conference together. But we need to create a new sense of energy and purpose and read the historical context correctly. Thank you.
Cardinal George: Archbishop Hughes.
Archbishop Alfred Hughes (New Orleans, member Vox Clara): Just a point of information, Bishop Serratelli. The Vox Clara has already asked Monsignor Jim Moroney [former director of the USCCB liturgy secretariat], who is staff to Vox Clara, to begin looking at a catechesis on a universal basis for English-speaking conferences. So whatever effort might be considered for us, I think, might benefit by work that he’s supposed to be bringing back to Vox Clara.
Bishop Serratelli: Thank you, Archbishop. Also there’s been a group put together by Bishop Roche out of ICEL, called the Leeds group, that is looking to prepare some base material that can be used, then, by other conferences. So we will look into both avenues.
Cardinal George: All right, I don’t see any other clarification questions, so — Oh, Bishop Trautman, again, please.
Bishop Trautman: I just wonder, what is the final disposition of the point that I raised? Will this text go back to ICEL, or is it going directly to Rome?
Cardinal George: I think if you want to have that presented formally, the time is after we’ve accepted the text. Then we could raise the question, or you could make a motion: where should it be sent?
Bishop Trautman: Is that a procedural item for now? Just a question of clarification. Isn’t this the time to raise the procedure?
Cardinal George: You will make that motion, I understand, whether now or later, to send it to ICEL rather than send it immediately to the Congregation. Is that correct?
Bishop Trautman: That is correct.
Cardinal George: Good. [Inaudible consultation with Parliamentarian.] The Parliamentarian said it would be best tomorrow. We’ll have the text, and then we can decide. Okay?
Bishop Trautman: All right, thank you.
Cardinal George: Thank you very much. Thanks for the intervention. Anything else that somebody wants to say about this? Well then, thank you very much Bishop Arthur.
Friday Morning, June 13
Debate and Vote on Action Item #1 – ICEL Translation of the Proper of Seasons, presented by Bishop Arthur J. Serratelli, Chairman of the BCDW.
Cardinal Francis George: This morning’s work entails the approval and passage of the documents that were presented from the Committee on Worship and the Committee on Doctrine yesterday for your consideration and, where necessary, amendment. So may I ask Bishop Serratelli to come forward please so that we may approve the — or vote, possibly and possibly approve the ICEL translation of the Proper of Seasons. There is some question about our quorum, because we need two-thirds of the conference in order to pass this text, whether the members are present or not. So we’ll have to see how the discussion goes and whether or not it may be necessary to move towards a mail ballot.
Bishop Serratelli: Thank you, Your Eminence. Bishops, I present to you Action Item #1, the Gray Book of the Proper of Seasons, which is your yellow book, from the Missale Romanum, editio typica tertia. As the Cardinal has mentioned, passage of this item requires a two-thirds vote of the Latin Rite Bishops of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. You have before you the amendments that were handed in as a result of our process that we went through, conflated amendment and modification. There were no other amendments handed in yesterday. The amendments in these two booklets represent the contribution of seven of our brothers. Just a word of correction: in Group I, amendment 2 is also found in Group II, so you can delete it from Group I. And #10 is an error. So just for the sake of clarity, #2 and 10 in those accepted do not belong in that booklet.
Cardinal George: So, dear brothers, the committee recommends that all of the amendments in Group I be adopted. Does any member desire separate consideration of any amendment in Group I? [No response] Without objection, then all of the amendments in Group I are adopted.
The committee recommends that all of the amendments in Group II not be adopted. Does any member desire separate consideration of any amendment in Group II? [No response]
Then none of the amendments in Group II will come before the assembly. We then proceed through the debate and the vote on the full text.
Point of order, Bishop Trautman.
Bishop Trautman: Thank you. Please recall yesterday I rose to talk about the process. Is this the time to talk about the process? I’m not here to talk about the substance, but the process of the amendment.
Cardinal George: Perhaps we could finish the debate, if there is any, and the vote on the text. Then we have a text. And then we can entertain your question as to whom to send it to.
Bishop Trautman: Okay, thank you.
Cardinal George: Is that all right, Bishop Serratelli?
Bishop Serratelli: Yes.
Cardinal George: Okay. So let’s finish the text first, please. And then I’ll call on you again, Bishop Trautman. Thank you.
Is there any discussion of the text before us? [There was no audible response]
Would you move the …
Bishop Serratelli: I therefore move the…
Cardinal George: [Interrupting] I’m sorry. I’m sorry. Bishop Galeone.
Bishop Victor Galeone (St. Augustine): Thank you. You recall two years ago when Bishop Roche from Leeds, the head of ICEL, made his presentation he said that the Liturgiam authenticam document on the way the texts should be translated into other languages, the vernacular, was not intended to have literal translations. And he said that was not their objective in presenting — You recall that we were debating there in Los Angeles the Eucharistic Prayers.
I feel that they were literal translations, and I feel that the orations that we’re about to vote on now are even more literal, to the point that the English is, in many cases, very unclear. I’d like to cite just one example in the interest of time, if I may. All right?
In the copy of the text given us, on page 126. There’s no page 126 numbered, but it’s opposite 127, all right. Let’s take the Prayer after Communion. The bottom one. When I say that I feel it’s a literal translation from the Latin: when I check the Latin, for example, if the vocative case was post positive, this has it post positive. If the Latin had certain qualifying ablative absolutes, this was put in the exact same place. This Post Communion prayer reads as translated:
Fill our minds, almighty God,
with sure confidence that,
through your Son’s Death in time,
to which awesome mysteries bear witness,
you have given us perpetual life.
Through Christ our Lord.
[This is the Prayer for Wednesday in Holy Week — Ed.]
Now, when I read that, I thought there in line 35 that the ‘that’ was a clause of purpose. That is: “Fill our minds, almighty God, with sure confidence that” — that is, “so that” or “in order that”. Then there’s the intervening clause: “through your Son’s Death in time, to which awesome mysteries bear witness”. Then I read: “you have given us perpetual life”. And I said, “Wait a minute, there’s something amiss here. That’s not a purpose clause.” So, I checked the Latin, and sure enough, it isn’t. In the Latin it’s indirect discourse.
Now, the only way that you can put that in correct English is to join the ‘that’ with the “you have given us perpetual life”. I would like to show what I mean by just adding the definite article ‘the’ before ‘sure’, which is necessary in context, and the demonstrative ‘these’ before ‘mysteries’ — or ‘awesome’, rather. I’ve changed no other words, now, just the word order. Now with what we have here, listen to this:
Almighty God, fill our minds with the sure confidence that
you have given us perpetual life
through your Son’s death in time
to which these awesome mysteries bear witness.
My point is that it flows; it makes sense. I challenge anyone to proclaim what’s given here at Mass, even with Magnificat texts in front of you. It’s very difficult to understand.
Now some of you may be saying: “Bishop Galeone, we didn’t notice any of your interventions to amend the text.” And I didn’t. I started to do so, and then I said: “Well, wait a minute”. And, please, I apologize if I sound cynical, because I tried this two years ago. And then I said, “I feel that I’m going to be investing a lot of time to no avail”. Case in point, same page, the Collect at the top: “O God, who for our sake willed that your Son should suffer on the gibbet of the Cross”. [Emphasis by Bishop Galeone]
The last time I heard the word “gibbet” was back in the 1940s, during Lent. We were making the Stations of the Cross. I was in grade school. And there was Sister Helena leading us every Friday during Lent. And if it weren’t for the word ‘nails’ I would not have understood what ‘gibbet’ meant. “O Lord, you were nailed to that infamous gibbet…” I never heard the word since 1949. Never.
Bishop DiMarzio made an intervention to correct that. He had a problem with ‘gibbet’, and rightly so. Now, normally it’s not the vocabulary. My whole point is — I see the red light, I’ll close now — my whole point is that I do feel that these orations need reworking if they’re going to be proclaimed and prayed properly, without having our people scratch their heads continuously.
For example, we always say “Let us pray”. Then the Latin says: “Domine, quaesumus… Infunde, Domine, quaesumus”. ‘Quaesumus’ is a very archaic word in Latin. It’s like ‘prithee’ in English. Even in Cicero’s time it was archaic. [Pause, scattered laughter] You see.
Now, my point is that in Latin you’ve got Oremus from ora, orare; you’ve got quaesumus. But in English we say “Let us pray” and then we’ve got the quaesumus: ‘pray’ again, right the next line.
I could go on. I said my — I feel that this needs reworking. I’m against the texts as they stand. Thank you for your attention. [Applause]
Cardinal George: Thank you very much, Bishop Galeone. [Some laughter] Now, what would you suggest? Obviously you don’t want to make particular amendments, as I understand you. But what would you suggest?
Bishop Galeone: I sincerely feel that these — Please do not misunderstand me. I love Latin. I had six years of Latin in minor seminary. Over in Rome, philosophy, theology in Latin. Back to Baltimore, [unclear] seminary. I taught Latin for seven years. Before I retire each night I still read Thomas Aquinas in the original, an article or two before I turn the light out. Marvelous. I love Latin.
I recall a professor in minor seminary saying, to be a good translator one needs to know, not just the original language that you’re translating from, but also your own language that you’re putting it into. He said if you know either one of those languages perfectly, but the other one imperfectly, you can never be a good translator. Never.
I do feel that Bishop Roche, though he said — and it’s in Liturgiam authenticam — he said that we’re not after a slavish translation. But I do feel that basically that’s what we have wound up with. And notwithstanding the work that my brother bishops have done with the amendments that have been accepted — all excellent, by the way — but many more amendments were rejected: for example, DiMarzio’s ‘gibbet’. [Pause, and some laughter.] It…
Cardinal George: [Laughing] Got the ax.
Bishop Galeone: And there was no reason given for it. [More laughter]
Cardinal George: May I have a suggestion, please, Bishop Galeone.
Bishop Galeone: I hate to throw a monkey wrench into the whole works, but sincerely — The will of the bishops should be followed, obviously. Furthermore, I’m an obedient son of the Church as much — Let’s say that what we have now is passed, I will not change them. I will pray them as they are given, doing my best, really. But I do feel that we’re not being fair to our people. And incidentally, many of the changes that have been made I pray — The vernacular has been a blessing for our people. Since 1970 I’ve not said one Latin — please, I love Latin I said — but I’ve not prayed the former rite one time. I’ve never been asked to, number one. And if I were asked I’d say: “Well, I’ll do the new rite in Latin, I’d rather not do the Tridentine rite, with all due respect to the motu proprio of the Holy Father.” But I do feel that we should re-look these over once again before we decide. And this is not the time to do this. I know.
Cardinal George: Well, there are other possibilities to that point. Bishop Sklba, Bishop Trautman, Cardinal Mahony and Bishop Serratelli will, of course, want to contribute to this as well. Pilarczyk has his hand up as well. And so, Bishop Sklba. And then Bishop Trautman.
Bishop Richard Sklba (Auxiliary, Milwaukee, member ad hoc Committee for Review of Scripture Translations): Thank you, Your Eminence. I recall very vividly being in Rome a few days after the Council decision to allow vernacular in the liturgy. And I recall a conversation with an Anglican acquaintance who said: “Great, you have vernacular in the liturgy. You think your problems are over. They’re just begun”.
I understand the need for faithful translations. It’s obviously an expression of diachronic apostolicity in the Church. We need to be in contact with the Tradition. And I understand the value of translations that are shared through the various subgroups of a linguistic family, because that’s an expression of our Catholicity. But this is also, as others have said, a case of oral communication and proclamation. And if I have difficulty understanding the text when I read it, I’m just wondering how it’s possible to pray it in the context of worship.
My dad used to tell me as a kid: “If you’re going to do something, do it right the first time.” And it seems to me that this is not quite mature yet. Therefore if we pass it — and we may have to do it under pressure — it’s going to come back again, and again, and again. Our priests and our people will ask us to do a job that can be helpful across the board. Some of the texts are really beautiful. Proclamation, singability: that’s the challenge, I think. My suggestion is to defer the vote until we have a chance to go through it. Thank you very much for all the work done.
Cardinal George: Bishop Trautman.
Bishop Trautman: Thank you very much. I resonate with what has been said already. The documentation introducing this Action Item makes reference to the former Committee on Worship sending a letter to ICEL representing the consultation of the bishops on the Proper of the Seasons. After extensive deliberation that committee unanimously passed on to ICEL its evaluation and made recommendations based on concerns received from this body of bishops.
There was a serious concern over the form of the translated conclusions of the Proper texts. This has not been addressed in the text before us. There was objection to certain archaic and obscure words. And, while the text before us addressed this to some degree, there is still repeated use of words like ‘wrought’, ‘gibbet’, ‘ineffable’. The Committee on Worship yesterday rightly argued against the use of vosotros, saying (and I quote): “It is no longer current speech”. I use the same argument today saying ‘wrought’ is no longer current speech.
Finally, the Committee on Worship, in its letter to ICEL, objected to the long single sentences with several clauses, making prayers difficult to proclaim and understand. And yet on page 63 of this document, we have the prayer for the blessing and imposition of ashes, which is a single sentence with twelve lines and three clauses. Page 63.
Dr. Lugo yesterday spoke of the fiesta spirit that our Hispanic brothers and sisters bring to the liturgy. How will they, or any of our people, relate to phrases like: “Mary, who ineffably brought to birth”; or: “whose ineffable Word the immaculate virgin received”? How will they relate to those texts?
John and Mary Catholic have a right, according to the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, to have prayer texts that are clear and understandable. The document before us needs further work.
Cardinal George: Thank you. Cardinal Mahony. May I say that the collective purpose of the group is still ineffable, and we hope in the discussion to bring it to further clarity. [Laughter]
Cardinal Roger Mahony (Los Angeles): I think it would be helpful if Bishop Serratelli could outline for us, if we were not to approve this what would then be the next timelines. What would then unfold, over how many years, before anything else would happen?
Bishop Serratelli: If we do not approve this to go forward to the Congregation, and if it were to go back to ICEL, then it would have to go back to ICEL with all the observations, amendments, modifications that we would then have to do.
And then at that point, after ICEL looks at it — and if I may say a parentheses, all the things that have been brought up here will be the very things brought up again to ICEL which ICEL has already looked at — so, having said that, the timeline, I would think would be: after we send it to ICEL, then ICEL would have to look at it. It would have to come back to us again. And so I would think that would take at least a year and a half.
It might be helpful to know that four other episcopal conferences have already approved the text.
Cardinal George: If we do send it back, we could continue the work on other texts, however, as ICEL presents them to us. Isn’t that correct?
Bishop Serratelli: Yes. Yes. But this text, I think, would not come back to us for about another year and a half.
Cardinal George: In the interim we would have other texts to consider, however. Archbishop Pilarczyk.
Archbishop Pilarczyk: Mr. President, this is an attempt to respond to the plea that I thought I heard coming from the Chair. You know, does Bishop Galeone have a suggestion? It seems to me that the concerns that Bishop Galeone and others have expressed can best be dealt with by voting ‘no’ on the document. If you don’t like it, you vote ‘no’. And if we don’t get two-thirds, then whatever has to happen will happen, and we’ll deal with the rest when it comes around again. But it seems to me that the concerns that have been expressed are best dealt with by voting ‘no’ on the document.
Cardinal George: Thank you, Archbishop. Bishop Lynch, followed by Archbishop Niederauer.
Bishop Robert Lynch (St. Petersburg): First, I’d like to express my personal thanks to my dear brother from St. Augustine for giving me the courage at this moment. I was among those who voted in the minority for the Mass texts. And I took those Mass texts to my presbyteral council, twenty-six brother priests. Two in favor of those texts, twenty-four against, with some pleas: “Bishop, do what you can. We can’t pray these”. That’s even more true of these prayers, not only the language but the length. One good that will come out of this is that the recommended pause before the orations will be necessary as you gather enough breath to pray the prayer. [Laughter] So I strongly — If there’s hope in this room for one more than one-third [negative votes], it’s the right thing to do.
Cardinal George: Thank you. Archbishop Niederauer, followed by Bishop Kinney.
Archbishop George Niederauer (San Francisco): As a young priest I taught Freshman composition in the seminary college — for my sins. [Laughter] And if I had been given these as sample prayers that people had been assigned to write, I would have written ‘awkward’ next to a lot of them, I think. I who had never, in eight years in the conference, submitted an amendment to any document, submitted in excess of forty the first time we got the text for the Ordinary of the Mass. Because much of it had been done by someone who never met an ablative absolute he didn’t like. [Laughter] And the ablative absolute is very elegant in Latin; parallelism is very effective in English. So that it’s better for us to say: “May God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins, and bring us to everlasting life”. That’s elegantly done. What is inelegantly done is: “May God have mercy on us (comma) and with all our sins forgiven (comma) bring us to everlasting life”. That’s an imperfect thing to do.
But when we got the next round back, I noticed that not a single amendment had been accepted. And I thought: Well, then that’s that; the process moves forward. I recognize that there’s much that could be improved, and I suppose what we will get if we vote ‘yes’ today is an imperfect Sacramentary for an imperfect people for whom an imperfect celebrant is celebrating. So we will have to take that extra breath.
But I just don’t know that voting ‘no’ accomplishes much. I think that this process has been going on for years now, and here we are. And I think…. Some can say, and I respect them, vote ‘no’, send it back again. But I also respect those who say let’s move forward, let’s get a new Sacramentary before they all fall apart in the sacristies.
Cardinal George: Thank you, Archbishop. Bishop Kinney, followed by Archbishop Lipscomb.
Bishop John Kinney (St. Cloud): I do want to thank the committee for the work that you’ve done, but I very much resonate and agree with Bishop Galeone and the other speakers. I do think that for the sake of the liturgy and the understanding of the vernacular it’s very important for us to do this right this time. So I would urge voting ‘no’.
Cardinal George: Thank you, Bishop. Archbishop.
Archbishop Oscar Lipscomb (retired in April 2008 as Archbishop of Mobile; member of Vox Clara, former chairman of liturgy committee): This is not the first time I have voted kind of like a — I’m not voting now, but I’m speaking — a lone voice to say I see no practical remedy for our getting — and I will not say a hasty, but a long-planned, carefully scripted, several times gone over by this body and others — text for the Roman Missal. It is not perfect. It is much better than the other versions that we saw, and on which we worked, and which we in time passed on to ICEL, and ICEL passed on to the Congregation, and have been returned to us.
I do work on Vox Clara, and I’ve seen this up close. Some of the constraints do come from Liturgiam authenticam. “Slavish” is not literal. And Liturgiam authenticam places a good priority on literalness. Also in the Latin style that we were dealing with, insofar as possible following the ancient form of the Latin orations, they have tried to be rendered within one sentence, whether we like it or not. We have a remarkable bishop there [Vox Clara] who keeps struggling for second sentences, Archbishop Sarpong [of Kumasi, Ghana], for his land, which he says will never understand this. He gets one through now and again.
But there is another consideration to what we consider to be good English and good style. I do not find them unacceptable; I do not find them unproclaimable. I think our genius in celebrating somehow can compensate through this when we offer Mass. And our people in their receptivity are not going to do this with the eye of a critic, or an English major or, less still, a Latin teacher. They’re going to do it with eyes of faith. Compared to what we have now, this is a vast improvement. Perhaps time will improve it again. For us to say ‘no’ now will delay it.
Archbishop Serratelli is giving us a kind judgment, “in a year and a half”. My estimate would be two years or more, considering the process it will go through.
That is not reason enough to say ‘yes’, but I think it’s reason enough not to say ‘no’, and see what we can do when the time comes to correct it in the future.
Cardinal George: Bishop Hermann first, and then Archbishop Pilarczyk, and then Cardinal DiNardo.
Bishop Robert Hermann (Auxiliary, St. Louis): Several years ago Cardinal Rigali after lunch said: “Bob, pray that we would find some scholar who really understands Latin and English and could render us a very readable translation”. And immediately, of course, I was thinking of Cranmer, who did such fine work on the King James Version. I really appreciate what Bishop Galeone has told us. There’s got to be — We can’t do this — you can’t — A committee comes together with a — it builds a camel.
We can’t do that. We can’t do what we need to do without having some very outstanding scholar who understands the Latin, as Bishop Galeone understands it, understands the English, as Bishop Galeone understands it. And have one scholar. It would not take that long to do that for a scholar that’s really that brilliant. And, therefore, I don’t think it’s going to delay the total project, because this can be going on while we approve other texts.
So I would strongly suggest that we dialogue with Bishop Galeone a little more. And somebody find a scholar — I’m sure they can — that has the skills for Latin and English, that can come up with a very readable text that would also prove — would be compatible with all the requirements of Liturgiam authenticam. Thank you.
Cardinal George: Thank you. Bishop Vann, you had a point of order as your card indicated? [Inaudible reply] All right. Well, then, let’s follow the sequence. Archbishop Pilarczyk, followed by Cardinal DiNardo. Then Bishop Vann.
Archbishop Pilarczyk: I just want to make an observation over the counsel that has been offered: let’s move forward. It depends what you’re moving forward to, it seems to me. It seems to me that if we move forward with what we have we would like to think that we are moving forward toward some sunny upland of linguistic millennium, which does not seem to be the case. It seems to me we could be moving forward into a linguistic swamp. And it’s a lot better to stay and stop than move forward into a swamp.
Cardinal George: Thank you, Archbishop. Cardinal DiNardo.
Cardinal Daniel DiNardo (Galveston-Houston): The grammatical issues that have been raised today certainly are available. Maybe there are infelicities that need to be worked. But some of what is being described also involves some theological issues as well. And it seems to me, listening two years ago, to the bishop from Leeds [Bishop Arthur Roche, chairman of ICEL], that there were some theological ways of dealing with Roman praying that were taken into account in this translation. Some of the results of which are maybe not as felicitous in English.
I still believe, with all of the difficulties, that the translation should go forward, that it should be approved by the bishops here. I think some attention perhaps from the conference liturgy committee to Vox Clara would be helpful in discussing some of these issues in Rome. But I think there are many, many good things about the translation. I think it becomes stronger after Advent-Christmas, in the Lent-Easter season though some difficulties have been mentioned this morning. But all in all I think that the translation is fair enough to be voted ‘yes’ by those here present. Thank you very much.
Cardinal George: Thank you. Bishop Vann.
Bishop Kevin Vann (Fort Worth): I appreciate all the viewpoints and the respectful debate this morning. As a newcomer, again, this helps me a great deal. I have to say as relatively new to this and listening to many people at home and various places, I think folks are anxious and ready to have a new translation for us to pray. It’s imperfect. It’s, however, far better than the other. It’s more better than not. And I think I would really encourage a vote in favor to move forward with it. Thank you.
Cardinal George: Cardinal Mahony, you had a point of clarification I believe.
Cardinal Mahony: Yes, a clarification to my question earlier to Bishop Serratelli. Actually, if we’re going to try to capture what a lot of the brothers are talking about, we really need to send this out brand new — I mean what we’ve got —and ask for amendments. It is not helpful to send this to ICEL and say we don’t like it. We are going to have to have all the brothers, once again as if we’re starting over with a Green Book, and submit modifications, all have to be vetted through the conference, and that’s what I’m trying to get at.
This is not going to be done in two years. This is going to take several years before we’re at that point. And I just wanted to make sure: is that what we’re talking about? Because we can’t, in a sense, send this back and say we don’t like it. That’s not going to do it. We’re going to have every single prayer, and everything we don’t like with an alternative. Isn’t that correct? And that’s going to take more than two years in my estimation. I just want us to be aware of what we’re talking about.
Cardinal George: There is one more, and then we’ll cut the discussion. Archbishop Vlazny. And then, Bishop Serratelli, could I ask you to kind of résumé it? Also in response to Bishop Trautman’s earlier concern, what happens next? Because while we’ve said we want to know whether the text is passed or not, in fact we have to count ballots, and we may have to go by mail. So perhaps we can’t entertain your question in good time. So maybe if you could comment on the process. What happens next if no, if yes. Tell us where we are going with this.
Archbishop John Vlazny (Portland, Oregon, member Committee on Divine Worship): Thank you, Your Eminence. I rise to speak in favor of the translation as it’s been presented to us by the committee. I just became a consultant on the committee this past year. And let me say this: certainly I am moved to support this in virtue of pastoral considerations — this idea that we don’t want to go on forever. But that’s really not the reason I have come to support this document. And I just want to say this: I deeply respect the fact that many people have very seriously studied this document.
A couple of years ago, when we received the Green Book, there was serious discussion. Obviously some very fine recommendations were made to ICEL. And it seems to me everything that’s being said today is somewhat similar to the kinds of recommendations we made a couple of years ago. And we did receive a response. A response which acknowledged many of the things we had to say, but didn’t acknowledge everything.
We are part of an effort to present a translation into English that is satisfactory to eleven nations, as Bishop Serratelli has suggested. Already four nations have accepted this. Admittedly we’re the big ones. We’re the big ones — but that doesn’t allow us, I think necessarily, a terribly privileged position. Obviously we are very influential. I think we need a measure of humility in this.
I do believe that very fine people — including the people who have been on the worship committee before, and the group that I am privileged to work with now together with the members of ICEL — I think there have been serious, scholarly people.
I agree with Bishop Galeone — I studied classics at the University of Michigan. I got a degree. I understand all about translation. I have some concerns about the way it’s expressed.
But I have to step back and say, you know, Liturgiam authenticam gives some direction. We seem to have some difference of opinion about what the document suggests. But I think we’re trying our best to respect that document, to respect the participation of all those who are trying to produce an English translation that’s suitable for us. It may be imperfect, but as someone else has said, the previous document was imperfect. But it became familiar, and I think we can become familiar with many things. I can become familiar with ‘gibbet’, ‘ineffable’ and ‘wrought’, and I think my people can, too. And I think it will be a non-problem after we have proclaimed it for a few years.
So I really honestly think that in reviewing the translations — I didn’t look at every single one, and I appreciate what Bishop Galeone presented today — but I’m even comfortable with what he thought wasn’t so comfortable. I think I can proclaim it.
There’s a lot of language out there. People are writing against this. There’s a strong lobbying effort for some reason for us to oppose this. I don’t think we should. I think we should just say we’re part of a process, we’ve made our case and this is what came b