Dec 15, 2008

News & Views

Online Edition:
December 2008 – January 2009
Vol. XIV, No. 9

News & Views

Archbishop Ranjith Addresses Gateway Liturgical Conference | What Can’t Catholics Understand? | SCL Conference on Roman Missal

Archbishop Ranjith Addresses Gateway Liturgical Conference

Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith, Secretary of the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments (CDW), addressed the 2008 Gateway Liturgical Conference, held at the Cardinal Rigali Center in St. Louis November 7-8.

Archbishop Ranjith’s address on November 8, “Ars Celebrandi, The Art of Celebrating”, focused particularly on the importance of the careful attention of the priest celebrant in order to transmit the fullness of the liturgy’s mystery and sacramental meaning. The Vatican prelate was introduced by Bishop Robert Hermann, St. Louis archdiocesan administrator.

Oakland Bishop Allen Vigneron, a member of the US Bishops’ Committee for Divine Worship (BCDW), addressed the group on Friday morning on “The Art of Pastoral Translation at the Service of Communion”, which reviewed the principles guiding the project of translating the Roman Missal according to the Vatican Instruction Liturgiam authenticam, and how these efforts contribute to liturgical reform and renewal. Following his address, Bishop Vigneron also held a question-and-answer session on translation matters. A panel of faculty from the Aquinas Institute in St. Louis later reacted to Bishop Vigneron’s presentation and critiqued the principles of translation and the new International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) translations of the Missal.

Bishop Paul Zipfel of Bismarck, a native St. Louisan and former auxiliary bishop of St. Louis, presented the opening address, titled “Were Not Our Hearts on Fire?”, a reference to the Lord’s disciples recognizing Him in the breaking of the bread. Bishop Zipfel stressed that our faith is about our being transformed through the Eucharist — with minds, hearts, hands and eyes open to Christ — in order that we can transform the world.

Monsignor Nicholas Schneider, former director of the St. Louis liturgy commission and a founding board member of the Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions (FDLC, 1969-1975), also addressed the group. The wide variations in the celebration of Mass present a “many-splendored array”, he said.

More than a dozen “break-out sessions” addressed various aspects of liturgical celebration. Among the sessions was a workshop, “Gregorian Chant for the Parish”, led by Father Samuel Weber, OSB, who directs the archdiocesan Institute of Sacred Music.

Conference liturgies were held in the St. Vincent de Paul Chapel, and included choral Morning Prayer (Lauds) celebrated on Friday by Bishop Zipfel, and on Saturday by Archbishop Ranjith. Father Weber was cantor and led the congregation in the chanted psalms.

The conference was organized by Monsignor William McCumber of the St. Louis Office of Worship, and John Romeri, director of the Office of Music. Web site:

Stay tuned for more on the addresses at this conference in the Adoremus Bulletin.


What Can’t Catholics Understand?

Can “average Catholics” comprehend translations of liturgical texts that go beyond the simplest sentence structure, or that involve words that they won’t hear in the supermarket — words like “grace”, “soul”, “righteous”, not to mention “consubstantial”?

No, they can’t, say some liturgists (including a few bishops) who thereby justify opposing the Holy See’s Instruction on translation, Liturgiam authenticam, which requires accuracy in translating liturgical texts, and which has governed new translations of both Scripture and Mass texts since 2001.

Those wedded to these (dim) views of the intelligence of their fellow Catholics might have been surprised at their long-time colleague, Father Kevin W. Irwin, Dean of the School of Theology and Religious Studies at Catholic University of America, when he addressed a convention of the National Association of Pastoral Musicians (NPM) last summer in Los Angeles. Here is what Father Irwin said on the subject:

But when I say it’s about and for “the folks”, I want to be clear that I mean a very astute and well-educated laity. As you are well aware, we are presently working toward a revised Roman Missal that I hope will have good texts that are both proclaimable and theologically accurate. I regret that some rhetoric about the average Catholic’s ability to understand the proposed texts is simply paternalistic and demeaning. Spokespersons who offer uncritical assessments of what “Joe and Mary Catholic” can understand are simply reiterating the same kind of preconciliar Church culture that ascribed to the laity no abilities beyond “pray, pay, and obey”. We now have the most highly educated Catholic laity in the history of the Church. American Catholics can boast the highest number of Catholic colleges and universities per capita in the history of the Church in this country, and many graduates of those institutions run international corporations and major businesses. We demean these people when we say they cannot understand the new translations. What we need to be working toward is a catechesis which will help them understand better and appropriate more completely a new Missal. (Original emphasis.)

Father Irwin’s address to the NPM Western Regional Division on August 5, 2008, “Authentic Worship in Spirit and in Truth”, appeared in the NPM’s magazine, Pastoral Music, October 2008, pp 52-60. (The quote above is on page 54.)


SCL Conference on Roman Missal

The 2009 Annual Conference of the Society for Catholic Liturgy (SCL), to take place January 29-February 1, 2009, will focus on the Missale Romanum.

More than twenty experts in sacred music, art, liturgy, and theology will address the conference, to be held at Saint Cecilia Cathedral in Omaha. The SCL publishes a liturgical journal, Antiphon.

Michael P. Foley, of Baylor University, will address the group on “The Mystic Meaning of the Missale Romanum”. Among other speakers at the conference will be ICEL Secretary Monsignor Bruce Harbert, Father Cassian Folsom, OSB, Edward Schaefer, Conrad Donakowski, Robert Fastiggi, and Daniel Van Slyke.

For conference information and registration details, see the SCL web site:



The Editors