Oct 15, 2010

The Missal in English – Change & Hope

Online Edition: October 2010

Vol. XVI, No. 7

The Missal in English – Change & Hope

English-speaking countries prepare for new texts for Mass

by Helen Hull Hitchcock

The Eucharist is the “fount and apex (source and summit) of the whole Christian life”, as proclaimed by Lumen Gentium (The Light of Nations), the Second Vatican Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (§11; and Catechism of the Catholic Church §1324).

It is from the Eucharist — Christ’s sacrifice — that we draw the strength and courage to live our faith and to pass it on to others. The Mass is also the source and summit of the Church’s evangelical mission to all people. It is through words that the Church conveys her truth. We hear, and believe: nothing is more crucial to our understanding of the faith and our worship. Thus the words the Church uses to convey her truth are critically important.

So we greet with particular joy the new English translation of the Missal — an authentic and worthy translation that has been in progress since the new version (the “third typical edition”) of the Roman Missal was officially released by Pope John Paul II in 2002. These words we will soon be hearing and speaking at Mass.

This great good news comes after years of labor by the bishops of English-speaking countries, by the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL), by the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments (CDWDS), aided by Vox Clara, a special committee of bishops and other experts appointed by the Holy See to aid the CDWDS with the English translation.

The procedures involved in providing an accurate and worthy text for worship have been complex and difficult — as AB readers are well aware from our reports over the years. (See our web site: www.adoremus.org – translation section).

At present, two major English-speaking bishops conferences have announced they have received recognitio from the Holy See, and have begun the process of implementing the translation change: the United States and Australia. Canada and England-Wales both announced that they had not yet received recognitio for the complete Missal text.

The seven other ICEL member conferences have not yet made an announcement: Scotland, Ireland, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, Philippines, and South Africa. Fifteen other countries where English is a major language are associate members of ICEL.

United States

Cardinal Francis George, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), announced August 20 that the full text of the new English translation of the Roman Missal has been approved by the Holy See, and will come into use on November 27, 2011, the first Sunday of Advent. Cardinal George, a member of Vox Clara, also served as the US member of ICEL.

Bishop Arthur Serratelli of Paterson, current treasurer of ICEL and chairman of the USCCB Committee on Divine Worship, commented, “I am happy that after years of preparation, we now have a text that, when introduced late next year, will enable the ongoing renewal of the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy in our parishes”.

American Archbishop Augustine Di Noia, OP, is secretary of the CDWDS. Other US bishops are also members of Vox Clara: Cardinal Justin Rigali, Archbishop Oscar Lipscomb (vice-chairman), and Archbishop Alfred Hughes.

A full-scale catechesis on the Liturgy and the new Roman Missal has now begun in the United States. (These efforts have been and will continue to be reported in AB.)

The USCCB has posted the texts for the Order of Mass and other resources for preparation on its web site, which anyone may download for study: usccb.org/roman missal.

The USCCB is also producing a Parish Guide to Implementing the Roman Missal, Third Edition, which is expected to be available November 1, 2010. Many dioceses have already initiated conferences and workshops to prepare for the new Missal.


On August 29, a report from the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference said that the new Roman Missal is “expected to be implemented in Australia in mid-2011”.

Father Peter Williams, secretary of the Bishops Commission for Liturgy, told The Catholic Weekly,

The implementation will begin from about the middle of next year … we will slowly over a period of time introduce some various parts of the new Missal to congregations so that they can accommodate the change. A date will be determined by the Bishops Conference either at the November conference this year, maybe if we’re in a position to know when we will have completed published books, but it will be sometime towards the end of next year when it will come into operation.

(“New Mass text set for mid-2011 start”, The Catholic Weekly, August 29 – www.catholicweekly.com.au/)

On September 30, Archbishop Philip Wilson, conference president, will introduce the DVD “Become One Body, One Spirit in Christ” produced by ICEL. He will be assisted by Archbishop Denis Hart of Melbourne, who is the Australian ICEL representative.

Sydney Cardinal George Pell is chairman of Vox Clara. Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Canberra headed the ICEL Roman Missal Editorial Committee.
Information about ICEL’s DVD presentation online: becomeonebodyonespirit inchrist.org.

England-Wales and Canada

On August 25, the bishops’ conference of England and Wales announced,

[W]e are still waiting to hear from the Holy See about the adaptations which were proposed by the bishops … and the texts of the National Propers for England and Wales. Until these texts have been received it is not possible for us to give a final date for publication [of the Missal].

Bishop Arthur Roche of Leeds is chairman of ICEL; and Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor, emeritus of Westminster, is secretary of Vox Clara. (Bishop Philip Boyce of Ireland is also a Vox Clara member.)

The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) issued a similar statement on September 3 that said, in part:

The CCCB has now received recognitio for the standard texts of the Roman Missal that will be used by all the other English-speaking countries, but has not yet received recognitio for any adaptations for Canada, nor for the proposed Proper Liturgical Calendar for the Dioceses of Canada…. The Bishops of Canada cannot select a date for the implementation of the Missal in Canada until all the approved texts, including the adaptations, have been received and the necessary amount of time ascertained for the Canadian Missal to be printed and published.…

(Online: www.cccb.ca/site/eng/statements/ 2840-update-on-the-new-english-language-translation-of-the-roman-missal-for-use-in-canada).

Ottawa Archbishop Terrence Prender-gast, SJ, is a Vox Clara member.

After the many clouds (and even a few storms) through the years, the new English Missal promises to dispel the “encircling gloom” — and to restore sacredness, clarity and beauty to our words of worship — to the truth the Mass alone transmits. This is a change that truly bears great hope.



Helen Hull Hitchcock

Helen Hull Hitchcock (1939-2014) was editor of the <em>Adoremus Bulletin</em>, which she co-founded. She was also the founding director of Women for Faith & Family and editor of its quarterly journal, Voices. She published many articles and essays in a wide range of Catholic journals, and authored and edited <em>The Politics of Prayer: Feminist Language and the Worship of God</em> (Ignatius Press 1992), a collection of essays on issues involved in translation. She contributed essays to several books, including <em>Spiritual Journeys</em>, a book of “conversion stories” (Daughters of St. Paul). Helen lectured in the US and abroad, and appeared frequently on radio and television, representing Catholic teaching on issues affecting Catholic women, families, and Catholic faith and worship.